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Supreme Court rules, but high-profile molestation case remains in limbo

Harry Brett Taylor

Harry Brett Taylor

LAWRENCEVILLE — After 13 years, the Gwinnett child molestation case against sci-fi convention founder Ed Kramer is set for trial. Barring any further setbacks, the long-delayed trial will become a reality this December.

Another high-profile case, though, remains in limbo more than five years after the arrest of its defendant, a well-connected community member accused of molesting 17 children.

Harry Brett Taylor — a former library board member, Boy Scout leader and participant in community programs like Leadership Gwinnett — was arrested in July 2008 when one boy filed sexual assault accusations with police. By the time of Taylor’s indictment two months later, more than a dozen other alleged victims, male and female, had come forward.

The case has seen eight different Gwinnett County judges and plenty of courtrooms since then, but it’s yet to go to trial. And it doesn’t appear to be headed that direction anytime soon.

On Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court denied defense attorney Walt Britt’s request for permission to appeal the State Court of Appeals’ previous rejection of a constitutional speedy trial claim. That decision would seem like a positive step toward getting the long-delayed case to trial, but the end result may be a timeline stretched even longer.

The Court of Appeals’ original rejection was based on the defense team’s “failure to follow … appeal procedures” established in brand new case law, and Britt said Monday that the Supreme Court’s decision only means he’ll have to start the process over again.

From beginning to end, it took 14 months to adjudicate the first speedy trial motion.

“Have not discussed with my client at this point,” Britt wrote in an email, “but we will chart a course of action to perfect our speedy trial claim and bring it before the appellate courts in accordance with their ‘new’ procedures.”

The complications in Taylor’s case started early on.

Prior to the initial speedy trial filing, a total of five local judges had recused themselves for various reasons. Taylor was well-known in the community, and most of the recusals stemmed from conflicts of interest or the possible perception thereof.

In April 2012, Judge William Ray became the sixth judge appointed to the case. Gov. Nathan Deal then appointed him to the Georgia Court of Appeals, effective July 30 — just a week before Taylor was scheduled to go to trial.

After that, Superior Court Senior Judge Fred Bishop took over temporarily. According to online court documents, the case now rests in the lap of Judge George Hutchinson III, who was appointed to replace Ray.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter could not be reached for comment Monday.

Forty-four years old at the time of his arrest, Taylor is facing 32 various felony charges alleging sexual misconduct with 17 different children. Alleged offenses include having sex with, touching and photographing children and date back as far as 1995.

All but two of the alleged victims — which include Taylor’s own children — are believed to be young boys. Taylor has remained in the Gwinnett County jail since his original arrest.