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David Anderson

Other Pennsylvania Cases with Official Misconduct
On March 1, 2000, 35-year-old David Anderson, an aide at the Polk Center State Hospital, a state facility for adults with serious cognitive deficits in Polk, Pennsylvania, was accused by a co-worker of sexually molesting a male patient.

Following an internal inquiry, hospital officials referred the matter to the Pennsylvania state Police. A police investigator said that Anderson admitted molesting D.M., although Anderson later denied that he had made any admissions. On April 28, 2000, the Venango County District Attorney’s Office filed multiple charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and indecent assault against Anderson involving three patients, who were identified as D.M., J.L. and T.C.

Anderson was accused of molesting D.M. on March 1, 2000. He was accused of assaulting T.C. in February 2000 and J.L. in 1999.

In June, 2000, Court of Common Pleas Justice Douglas Gerwick ruled that D.M., the patient that police said Anderson admitted molesting, was incompetent to testify and dismissed the charges involving him. Another competency hearing for D.M. was held in September 2000 and D.M. was again found incompetent to testify. In January 2001, the prosecution refiled the charges involving D.M. and at a third competence hearing, D.M. was found to be competent to testify.

The charges involving all three patients were consolidated and on February 5, 2001, Anderson went to trial in the Venango County Court of Common Pleas. A co-worker at the facility testified that he saw Anderson sexually molesting D.M. The three patients, who had all been found competent to testify prior to the trial, told the jury that Anderson sexually molested them.

Anderson denied that he had improperly touched the patients in any fashion.

On February 13, 2001, Anderson was convicted of indecent assault on D.M., and acquitted of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse involving D.M. When the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision on the charges involving T.C. and J.L., a mistrial was declared. On March 26, 2001, Anderson was sentenced to three months to two years in the Venango County Jail for the conviction involving D.M.

In the fall of 2001, Anderson went to trial again on the charges involving J.L. and T.C. On September 17, 2001, the jury convicted Anderson of indecent assault on T.C. and acquitted him of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with T.C. Anderson was also convicted of indecent assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with J.L. In January 2002, Anderson’s previous sentence was vacated and he was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison for the convictions involving all three patients.

In 2004, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the convictions. The case involving patient D.M. was dismissed outright by the appeals court because of the prosecution’s “eleventh hour” refiling of the charge. The appeals court vacated the convictions involving patients J.L. and T.C. and ordered a new trial.

The appeals court held that prosecutor James Carbone had committed prosecutorial misconduct during his final argument. The court cited Carbone’s “intemperate” language and “making a hand gesture to simulate masturbation in the direction of (Anderson) and defense counsel.” The prosecution’s petition for rehearing was denied in February 2005.

In September 2005, a jury was selected for the retrial of the charges involving patients J.L. and T.C. Prior to the presentation of evidence, a competence hearing was held and on September 8, 2005, the judge found J.L. and T.C. were not competent to testify and the jury was discharged. The prosecution appealed and in 2007 the Pennsylvania Superior Court vacated the trial court ruling on the ground that the judge had applied the wrong standard in determining competence to testify. The case was sent back to the trial court to apply a different standard.

In September 2007, Anderson’s lawyers filed a motion for a new competence hearing, claiming that the patients’ testimony at the 2005 competence hearing was tainted by prosecutor Carbone. The defense contended that Carbone had improperly coached the patients and influenced their testimony at that competence hearing.

The defense claimed that Carbone committed “egregious prosecutorial misconduct” which was designed “to subvert the truth-seeking process and deny (Anderson) his right to a fair trial.” The defense quoted Carbone as saying, “I can get (T.C.) to say anything.” The defense requested a new hearing “to test or challenge each witness’s independent ability to recall the alleged events on his own.”

The judge granted the motion for a new hearing and, at the request of the defense, ordered Carbone to only interview J.L. and T.C. in the presence of a Polk Center staff member, preferably the staff psychologist who was assigned to care for J.L. and T.C. Carbone was also ordered to keep a log of his meetings with the patients. The judge also ordered Carbone to provide the defense with any patient assessments of J.L. or T.C. conducted after January 1, 2004.

The new competence hearing convened on June 6, 2008. The defense presented evidence that Carbone—despite the order barring him from having contact with the patients without another party present—met with J.L. six days earlier. Carbone and J.L. met for several hours during which – in addition to watching a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game – Carbone told J.L. the questions he was going to ask at the hearing and the answers he wanted J.L. to give.

The judge postponed the competence hearing and the defense filed a motion to dismiss the charges because of Carbone’s misconduct. Specifically, the defense claimed that Carbone failed to log the meeting with J.L. and had failed to disclose the psychological reports relating to J.L. and T.C.

A hearing on the motion was held in July 2008. In February 2009, the judge granted the defense motion to dismiss the charges. The judge held that Carbone was “repeatedly dishonest with the court in an attempt to conceal his misconduct.” The judge also found that Carbone had failed to disclose the patient assessments, which suggested the patients were not competent to testify.

The prosecution appealed and in October 2010, the Superior Court reversed the dismissal and sent the case back for retrial. Anderson’s attorneys filed a motion asking that the case be reheard en banc by all of the judges of the Superior Court. The motion was granted and in November 2011, the full court upheld the dismissal of the charges.

The court held that Carbone had done more than “demonstrate a flagrant disregard” for the court order. “The prosecutor engaged in a pattern of pervasive misconduct throughout the proceedings, culminating in the improper meeting.” The court held that even after J.L. admitted he and Carbone watched the hockey game and discussed the questions that would be asked, Carbone “continued to deny any wrongdoing. The prosecutor’s disingenuous responses served only to exacerbate the misconduct.”

“Under these circumstances, the prosecutor intentionally acted to prejudice the defendant to the point of the denial of a fair trial,” the court ruled.

Anderson, who had remained free on bond during the appeals, later filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Carbone and Venango County, but the case was dismissed.

In 2015, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered Carbone disbarred from practicing law in Pennsylvania.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 11/24/2014
Last Updated: 8/13/2015
State:Pennsylvania
County:Venango
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2000
Convicted:2001
Exonerated:2011
Sentence:5 to 15 years
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:34
Contributing Factors:Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No