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Mother of alleged molestation victims upset with repeated delays in trial

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Joanne Cornish says enough is enough -- it's time for her ex-husband to face trial.

Her ex-husband is former Boy Scout leader and Gwinnett library board member Harry Brett Taylor, the man accused of molesting, having sex with or photographing as many as 17 children over a time period beginning in 1995. He was arrested in 2008 on 32 various counts of sexual misconduct with children.

Four years later, Taylor -- whose name Cornish refuses to say -- has yet to face a jury.

"These children, it almost devalues what happened to them, that nothing is really being done about it," Cornish, who has divorced Taylor and moved to South Carolina, told the Daily Post this week. "They don't see that anything is being done. They've all been very brave and very strong to this point."

Part of the problem lies in finding a judge. Since the case began moving through the court system, five Gwinnett Superior Court judges have recused themselves "for different reasons," District Attorney Danny Porter said earlier this week.

In the last two months alone, Judge Melodie Snell Conner (citing a possible perceived conflict of interest involving her staff attorney) and Judge Debra Turner (whose campaign chairman was Taylor's divorce attorney) have stepped away from the case.

Taylor, who was also involved in a number of organizations like Leadership Gwinnett, was well-connected throughout the community.

Judge William Ray was appointed to the case this week. Porter has said he hopes to try Taylor by the end of the year.

Cornish, also the mother of three alleged victims, wondered why it has often taken months for judges to be recused. She's equal parts hopeful and skeptical about the prospect of actually getting the trial underway this time.

"I'm curious to see what's going to happen with Judge Ray," she said. "Have they learned to figure out if there's any reason to recuse yourself before you waste any more time and the county's money? That's my question."

"You still have all of these victims out there, wondering if he's ever going to get out, what's going to happen, when is he going to trial," she added.

Porter could not be reached for comment Friday.

In the meantime, Cornish said her oldest son, an alleged victim who now lives in Canada, is "just very frustrated that it's taken four years." Her two younger boys, also alleged victims, are "going about their lives" and have not accompanied her on trips back to Lawrenceville for various court proceedings.

The less they know, the better, she said.

"I think that what's difficult for the victims, all of the victims and not just my children, is that there's no closure," Cornish said. "It would be different if things moved within a reasonable pace. A couple of years would have been nice."

Cornish also expressed frustration with the case seemingly fading into the background over years of stagnant proceedings, pointing out that the number of alleged victims outweighs even those in the case of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.

The accusations began with one boy telling police Taylor had touched his genitals and photographed him after exiting a swimming pool at the Taylors' home. Police at the time of his arrest believed Taylor had had similar contact with another boy for more than two years.

In August 2008, seven more boys -- ages 6 to 9 -- came forward. By the time of his indictment two months later, the alleged victims tallied 17.

The delays in a trial, Cornish said, are "hard to explain to kids."

"It still is in the back of their minds that that day is going to happen," she said. "People just can't forget. We've got to do whatever we can to keep this at the forefront because that's the only way there's going to be pressure to get this trial done."

Comments

suedehead 2 years, 6 months ago

Why doesn't Porter tell us why these judges recused themselves? After the third judge, this case should have been move to another county in the state.

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Linda 2 years, 6 months ago

Why hasn't the trial been moved to another county?

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