January 21, 2005

Appeals court overturns ex-deacon's conviction

The State

Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The state Court of Appeals has overturned the conviction of an ex-deacon accused of molesting a girl at church.

John Hubner, 56, was sentenced to 36 years in prison more than two years ago after a jury found him guilty of fondling a 12-year-old girl in 1996 and 1997.

But a three-judge panel on the appeals court ruled the trial judge made a mistake by allowing testimony from a woman who said Hubner sexually abused her in Maine more than a decade before.

The state attorney general's office has asked the state Court of Appeals to reconsider the decision, and may appeal to the South Carolina Supreme Court, spokesman Mark Plowden said.

Hubner will remain in prison during the appeal and if the ruling is upheld, will remain behind bars until his next trial.

The fat lady hasn't sung yet," said Carol A. McCurry, Hubner's attorney. "But we sure like the first verse." ...

The Columbia girl's family sued Hubner along with First Baptist Church and its pastor, the Rev. Wendell Estep. Hubner was a deacon at the church and police said some of the abuse took place there.

Posted by kshaw at January 21, 2005 04:03 AM