Three of Seven Guilty Verdicts Against Sex Abuser Nathaniel Morales Overturned by Maryland Court of Special Appeals
No one will get off for legal technicalities on the Final Day of Judgment.
Revelation 20:11ff. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. … And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened…and each person was judged according to what they had done. … Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Until then, justice is often denied, delayed, or perverted.
Nathaniel Morales was convicted on four counts of sexual abuse and three counts of sexual offense in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland on May 15, 2014. He was sentenced to 40 years on August 14, 2014 by Judge Terrence McGann. Morales filed a notice of appeal the next day. Last month, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals vacated (i.e. dismissed, set aside, overturned) one judgement and two sentences against him.
Let’s review. There were three cases against Morales that resulted in two trials in Montgomery County, MD. The first concerned the sexual abuse of Brian Wolohan, Sam Bates, Jeremy Cook, and Daniel Bates. Daniel was forced to pull out of the trial due to an emergency medical procedure.
The second case concerned David Tapia. He was not part of Covenant Life Church or Sovereign Grace Ministries. He was abused in the New Testament Church. That occurred before Morales came to CLC in 1981 or 1982.
The third case concerned James Roberts. He was also a plaintiff in the civil lawsuit brought against CLC and SGM. His case never went to trial because State’s Attorney John McCarthy thought it not worth the time or expense given the guilty verdicts in the first two trials. He closed the case in the name of “judicial prudence.”
You can use “Search Criteria” or Search By Case Number” to read the Case Information history for each of the above at this link. Use the following information.
Name: Morales, Nathaniel
Court: Montgomery County Circuit Court
Case Number: 121884C (c. Brian Wolohan, Sam Bates, Jeremy Cook)
Case Number: 123155C (c. James Roberts)
Case Number: 123156C (c. David Tapia)
“A vacated judgement makes a previous legal judgment legally void. A vacated judgement is usually the result of the judgment of an appellate court, which overturns, reverses, or sets aside the judgment of a lower court.” (Wikipedia)
I am not a lawyer but here is my best attempt to explain the current situation. I’ll add postscripts in the future if anything needs to be amended or corrected.
You can read the 29 page ruling here. The following introduction summates the ruling.
The Court of Special Appeals
Nathaniel Morales v. State of Maryland
In the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, in two jury trials, Nathaniel Morales, the appellant, was convicted of child sexual abuse and sexual offenses. In Case No. 121884 (“Case One”), a jury convicted him of child sexual abuse of B.W., child sexual abuse of S.B., child sexual abuse of J.C., and two counts of second-degree sexual offenses against S.B. Five days later, in Case No. 123156 (“Case Two”), a jury convicted him of child sexual abuse of D.T. and third-degree sexual offense against D.T.
Sentencing in both cases took place on August 14, 2014. The appellant was sentenced to consecutive ten-year terms of imprisonment for each child sexual abuse conviction, and concurrent ten-year terms for both second-degree sexual offense convictions regarding S.B. and for the third-degree sexual offense conviction regarding D.T., for an aggregate term of 40 years’ imprisonment.
The appellant presents seven questions on appeal, which we have consolidated, reordered, and rephrased as follows:
In Case One, was the appellant illegally convicted and sentenced for the crime of child sexual abuse of B.W.?
I. In Case One, did the trial court err by denying the appellant’s motion to sever?
II. In Case One, was the evidence legally sufficient to sustain the appellant’s convictions for child sexual abuse?
III. In Case Two, did the circuit court err by allowing the State to make improper and prejudicial statements during closing argument?
IV. In both cases, did the circuit court err in failing to merge the appellant’s sexual offense convictions for sentencing?
V. For the following reasons, we shall vacate the judgment of conviction for child sexual abuse of B.W.; vacate the sentence for one second-degree sexual offense against S.B.; and vacate the sentence for third-degree sexual offense against D.T. We shall otherwise affirm the judgments. We shall remand for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
Here is my breakdown of the above in order to simplify what has transpired.
1. Child sexual abuse of Brian Wolohan. – vacated judgement
2. Child sexual abuse of Sam Bates – affirmed judgment
3. Child sexual abuse of Jeremy Cooke – affirmed judgment
4. Second degree sexual offense against Sam Bates – vacated sentence
5. Second degree sexual offense against Sam Bates – affirmed judgment
6. Child sexual abuse of David Tapia – affirmed judgment
7. Third-degree sexual offense against David Tapia – vacated sentence
We also read the following about the original sentencing on page 25 in the recent ruling by the MD Court of Special Appeals.
“Sentencing in both cases took place on August 14, 2014. As explained above, the appellant received a ten-year term for each of his four child sexual abuse convictions, to run consecutively, and a ten-year term for each of his two second-degree sex offense convictions and for his third-degree sex offense conviction, all to run concurrently.”
Let me try to explain. Morales was found guilty of sexual abuse and sexual offense. They are not the same under the law. He received 10 years each for the sexual abuse of four boys to be served “consecutively.” That means one sentence after another for a total of 40 years. Tragically, the guilty verdict for the sexual abuse of Brian Wolohan has now been vacated. I assume that means Morales’ sentence will be reduced by ten years.
The Special Appeals Court also vacated two of the three ten year sentences for sexual offense to be served “concurrently.” That means at the same time as the 40 years for the sexual abuse. One of the two in relation to Sam Bates. The other in relation to David Tapia. I know it gets a little confusing.
Therefore, despite the vacated judgement and sentences, Morales remains guilty of three counts of sexual abuse (30 years consecutively) and one count of 2nd degree sexual offense (10 years concurrently). If I am understanding the sentencing and ruling accurately, his prison time has been lowered from 40 years to 30 years.
Morales was arrested and jailed on October 15, 2012 after a two-year investigation that began October 20, 2009. The time he spent in jail after his arrest, and before his conviction, counts towards his sentence. That means he has served nearly four years and will be out in 26 years at the age of 84.
When you read the appeal, it is evident Nathaniel Morales was attempting to get all seven guilty verdicts against him vacated at the expense of tax payers in Montgomery County who furnished him Public Defenders. Abhorrent!
At the August 2014 sentence, Judge McGann said the following to Morales. He was right.
“I don’t believe your insatiable appetite for boys can be cured. Your wires are permanently twisted. Your conduct has had a profound and lasting deleterious effect. A long sentence is the only way to adequately punish you, protect society from you and deter other potential boy molesters. … You can’t even bring your despicable self to admit your crime. So, you hide behind your phony self-diagnosis of amnesia. Mr. Morales, you are one pathetic human being…a cowardly pervert.”
Those who have followed my writings know Morales sexual abused scores of boys from 1979 to 2009. That is three decades of non-stop carnage in many different geographical locations. When he was sentenced, there were five other open investigations in five different States. They were closed.
The brave victims that came forward in conjunction with law enforcement achieved their objective of making sure Morales died in prison due to natural causes. I don’t think that is threatened, but if so, new cases could be filed or reopened.
Much of the human carnage caused by Nathaniel Morales could have been averted if pastors at Covenant Life Church reported him when they first learned about his crimes in June 1991. Then again in 1992 and 1993. Then again in 2007. At a minimum, C.J. Mahaney, Grant Layman, Chris Glass, Robin Boisvert, Gary Ricucci, Joshua Harris, Corby Megorden, and Kenneth Maresco conspired as pastors at different times to cover up his sexual abuse of boys by agreeing not to report him to law enforcement.
Their publicly stated policy, as late as August 2011, was to handle child sexual abuse internally as a church due to the fear of lawsuits and reputational harm. This was C.J. Mahaney’s policy going back to 1980 when he became the senior pastor. For over 30 years, he and his staff did not involve law enforcement upon the suspicion of child sexual abuse. As a result, sex abusers operating in their midst did not fear police involvement or criminal prosecution. In addition, victims and their families were instructed not to report but to forgive their abusers and leave matters in the hands of the pastors. This was also Mahaney’s policy at large in Sovereign Grace Ministries.
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