A hearing on evidence against a former jail deputy charged with sexually assaulting six Sedgwick County inmates has been postponed after issues arose in court Wednesday.
The key unresolved question is whether attorneys representing alleged victims of the former deputy, David Kendall, could have to testify or provide information to his defense attorneys. A hearing on the issue has been set for Jan. 18.
Kendall’s defense attorney also challenged the inmates’ credibility, arguing they could be motivated by possible lawsuits against the county over their alleged mistreatment by Kendall.
Kendall’s preliminary hearing, at which prosecutors will present evidence to try to convince a judge that he should go to trial, has been pushed back to Jan. 23.
In June, prosecutors charged Kendall, 22, with 11 sex crimes against inmates, ranging from felony sodomy to misdemeanor sexual battery. Authorities say the crimes occurred between April and June 2012. Kendall also faces a charge of giving false information on a sheriff’s log.
On Wednesday in Sedgwick County District Court, Kendall’s defense attorney, Charles O’Hara, said that attorneys representing inmates alleged to have been victims of Kendall are witnesses because they have information about the case. O’Hara indicated he thought that some information gained by the inmates’ attorneys is not protected by attorney-client privilege.
O’Hara argued to Judge Joseph Bribiesca that he should be able to question the inmates’ attorneys and learn what information they have.
Among other things, O’Hara wants to know about any contracts or fee agreements between the inmates and their attorneys.
The attorneys O’Hara was referring to are Mark Schoenhofer and Kurt Kerns, who represent four of Kendall’s alleged victims. The inmates have filed claims against the county over alleged mistreatment by Kendall.
O’Hara said Kerns and Schoenhofer were present during investigators’ interviewing of one of the alleged victims and have information about the Kendall investigation.
Questioning the credibility of witnesses is a basic defense strategy.
O’Hara noted that Schoenhofer and Kerns have filed claims on four inmates’ behalf for $22 million in damages from the county.
“That’s a lot of incentive for people to get up and say things that aren’t true,” O’Hara said.
After Wednesday’s hearing, O’Hara, Schoenhofer and Kerns declined to comment. But in their comments to the judge, Schoenhofer and Kerns indicated they would contest O’Hara’s efforts to call them as witnesses.
The civil claims, which allege the inmates’ civil rights were violated and that sheriff’s officials were negligent in hiring Kendall, are an initial step in filing lawsuits; no lawsuits have been filed to date.
Kendall, who resigned after the criminal allegations arose, has been out of jail on a $500,000 bond.