Todd M. Collins has already served roughly two years in prison following November 2014 conviction for sexual abuse
CANANDAIGUA — A Victor man found guilty more than two years ago of sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl will have his case brought before a jury once again.
A new trial for Todd M. Collins, 36, is slated to begin in April, following the Fourth Department Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court’s decision to reverse the former verdict.
In November 2014, a jury found then 34-year-old Collins guilty of first-degree sexual abuse, a class D felony, for having sexual contact with the girl in 2009.
A month after the jury’s decision, Collins was sentenced to serve five and a half years in prison by then Ontario County Judge Craig Doran.
At the time of his sentencing, Doran described Collins as a “predator” and a “dangerous man.”
After a review of the case by the Appellate Division, the decision was made to have the verdict reversed due to issues involving a defense witness who was precluded from testifying during the trial, according to Ontario County First Assistant District Attorney Jim Ritts.
Collins' defense attorney William Easton pointed out that this witness has claimed that the victim recanted the allegations of sexual abuse.
Also, it was established by the Appellate Division that a juror selected was an acquaintance of District Attorney Michael Tantillo. Though Tantillo didn't directly prosecute the case, he is the head of the District Attorney's Office, meaning he is barred from having a relationship with any of the seated jurors, Ritts explained.
A new jury is slated to hear Collins' case on April 10 in the North Courtroom of the Ontario County Courthouse.
The details of this latest development came on Wednesday in court. At that time,Collins once again stood before the now State Supreme Court Justice Craig Doran.
Ritts announced during the appearance that a new trial would be bypassed if Collins pleaded guilty to the sexual abuse charge in exchange for a sentence promise of six months behind bars.
Doran pointed out that Collins had already served a "considerable amount of time" in state prison pending the appeal process decision. As a result of the time Collins has served — roughly two years — if he accepted the plea deal, he would have avoided any additional time behind bars. Collins would be solely required to serve 10 years of post-release supervision.
Collins, standing next to Easton, made it clear that he had no interest in pleading guilty.
After the brief appearance in court, Easton pointed out that his client has maintained his innocence throughout the case's development and wants to be vindicated at trial.
The first-degree sexual abuse charge carries a maximum seven-year prison sentence.
In January 2014 — years after the alleged abuse took place — Collins was charged with the crime.
At the defendant’s sentencing date in December 2014, Ritts said the victim had disclosed information to her father about the sexual abuse she allegedly endured at the hands of Collins in 2009. According to Ritts, the victim had confided in another relative prior to telling her father, but there was no action taken at that time.
After being informed of the incident, the victim’s father took the story to the Canandaigua City Police Department. Police investigators interviewed Collins, and after an hour of questioning, Collins allegedly corroborated the victim’s story, Ritts said.
It took the jury approximately an hour to return a guilty verdict in November 2014.
During the trial, the victim, who was then a teenager, testified regarding the alleged abuse.