Judge to allow past incident in child rape case

By Tim Weideman

Riley County Judge David Stutzman on Tuesday decided he would allow District Attorney Barry Wilkerson to admit evidence from an incident that Wilkerson argued shows a Fort Riley man accused of raping three young girls last year has a propensity for sexual misconduct.

The defendant, 31-year-old Christopher Bates, appeared in Stutzman’s courtroom during a motions hearing. Bates faces three counts of rape, five counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and one count of aggravated criminal sodomy.

Bates and the victims know each other, according to prosecutors.

After hearing arguments from Wilkerson and Larry McRell, Bates’ attorney, Stutzman decided to allow prosecutors to admit evidence regarding a past incident involving an adult woman known to Bates and the victims.

Wilkerson argued circumstances of incident were similar to one of the aggravated indecent liberties with a child charges.

“We believe these two acts do correspond and we believe there’s no innocent explanation,” Wilkerson said in court.

Stutzman said he would file a written memorandum explaining his decision.

Wilkerson also motioned to admit evidence from two other incidents — one involving the same woman and another involving a different adult woman — but Stutzman denied those motions.

McRell argued that admitting the evidence of all three incidents would have a “serious prejudicial effect.”

“It would preclude Mr. Bates from receiving a fundamentally fair trial,” he said.

According to Kansas statute, evidence of a committed crime is inadmissible if it attempts to show a person’s disposition to commit crime provides the basis to infer that the person committed a separate crime.

However, if a defendant is accused of a sex offense, “evidence of the defendant’s commission of another act or offense of sexual misconduct is admissible and may be considered for its bearing on any matter to which it is relevant and probative,” according to the statute.

The charges Bates faces stem from alleged crimes committed in Riley County between June 1 and Aug. 11 of 2013, according to a criminal complaint. The victims were 7, 10 and 12 years old at the time.

Bates is scheduled to go to trial on Aug. 18.

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