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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — A Dunn County judge has ruled that the attorney for a Colfax man who was convicted by a jury of child sexual assault was not ineffective as counsel and has denied a new trial.
Jobert L. Molde, age 47, appeared from the Stanley Correctional Institute by video means with his attorney, Robert Maxey, before Judge Rod W. Smeltzer July 16 to receive Smeltzer’s decision on whether Molde’s trial attorney had been ineffective.
Maxey was appearing for attorney Aaron Nelson, who had initially filed the motion with the court alleging ineffectiveness of counsel.
Molde was represented at trial by attorney Jessie Gwynn Weber.
A 12-person jury found Molde guilty on two felony counts related to first-degree sexual assault of a child under the age of 12 following a two-day jury trial in Dunn County Circuit Court in March of 2019.
Judge Smeltzer sentenced Molde in June of 2019 on the first count of the criminal complaint to 32.5 years in prison, with 25 years of initial confinement and 7.5 years of extended supervision.
On the second count, Judge Smeltzer sentenced Molde to eight years in prison, with five years of initial confinement and three years of extended supervision, to be served concurrently with the sentence on the first count.
At a hearing held January 14, Nelson said some of the trial witnesses did not believe the victim was trustworthy and also did not believe the sexual assault could have happened`.
Nelson alleged that Weber failed to ask witnesses the right questions to establish that they did not believe the victim was telling the truth and that they did not believe the assault could have occurred.
Judge Smeltzer said at the July 16 hearing that using a single incident of the victim being untruthful in a treatment setting to draw a conclusion of untruthfulness does not go toward ineffective counsel and could not be used at trial since he did not allow the treatment records to be admissible evidence in court.
The court believes the correct standard was applied to not allow the testimony, the judge said.
Weber also was not ineffective as counsel when she withdrew her objection to prior acts by Molde being used at trial, Judge Smeltzer said.
Withdrawing the objection to prior acts was part of a trial strategy to help establish a timeline for when the allegations occurred, he said.
Weber was not ineffective in using that trial strategy, the judge said.
Regarding Nelson’s allegations that Weber gave ineffective counsel because she did not ask family about the victim’s truthfulness, Weber instead used other testimony to determine whether the victim was truthful, Judge Smeltzer said.
Weber used the facts of the case to refute the victim’s testimony about the allegations, he said.
The victim’s truthfulness was brought up during the trial, so Weber not asking family members does not rise to the level of being ineffective counsel, Judge Smeltzer said.
No new trial
Judge Smeltzer denied Molde’s request for post-conviction relief and indicated that a new trial would not be ordered.
The sexual assault occurred in the Village of Colfax, and according to the criminal complaint, the victim described Molde having sexual intercourse with her to an interviewer from the Midwest Children’s Resource Center.
The victim would have been younger than 10 years old at the time.
As a condition of extended supervision, Judge Smeltzer ordered Molde to register as a lifetime sex offender and also ordered Molde to complete a sex offender evaluation and treatment.