Saturday, July 22, 2006
A Crime Story
Mr. Gnadt worked as assistant commonwealth attorney in Prince William County where he often escorted shackled prisoners into court.
Well, Gnadt got caught with his hands in the cookie jar, sort've speak, taking sexual liberties with an Army medic, allegedly looking for "hidden weapons inside his trousers."
Back in February 1996, Gnadt was convicted of "sexual battery" but the verdict was overturned on appeal to the lesser charge of "assault and battery." Gnadt was then sentenced to 12 months in prison with nine months suspended.
The Washington Post reported in 1996:
A U.S. District Court jury awarded the Army medic $165,000; but with the new finding, Gnadt avoided the heavy burden and shame of registering as a sex offender.
Gnadt, 48, did not take the stand in his trial, in Prince William County General District Court. But his former boss, Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert, testified that Gnadt admitted to the crime in his office several days after it happened."
He said, 'It was stupid of me. I don't know why I did it.' He said, 'Please don't fire me,' " Ebert testified. "I said, 'How many times has this happened?' and he said two or three. I said, 'Could it have been three or four?' and he said yes."
That was still not good enough for Gnadt, though; he wanted the guilty verdict stricken from his record and appealed the decision to Virginia's highest court.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's finding in Gnadt v. Commonwealth on April 14, 1998. Too bad it didn't also repeal the District Court's finding and go back to the initial trial court's ruling, "guilty of sexual battery." As it is, Gnadt is who knows where preying on innocent folks.
Update: Jaded JD pointed out that Virginia's highest court is the Supreme Court. HL should have said the appeal was to the next highest court. Sorry:(
And...to hopefully clarify the series of events, here's what happened. Gnadt was found guilty in District Court. He appealed and had the initial verdict changed by Prince William Circuit Court Judge Thomas A. Fortkort from "sexual battery" to "assault and battery." He then appealed to Virginia Court of Appeals, which affirmed the lower court ruling.
You also conflate the United States District Court with the General District Court for the 31st Judicial District (Prince William County): I still don't understand what you mean by "repeal the District Court's finding and go back to the initial trial court's ruling . . . ." First, appellate courts don't "repeal" trial courts' judgments; appellate courts affirm, reverse, reverse and remand, or vacate. Second, the General District Court for the 31st Judicial District is the trial court, because sexual battery is a misdemeanor. Va. Code Ann. Sec. 18.2-67.4. Of course, the first appeal is to the circuit court. So I could take you to mean that the general district court found Gnadt guilty of sexual battery, which Gnadt appealed to the circuit court for de novo review, whereupon he was convicted of assault and battery under Va. Code Ann. Sec. 18.2-57, but that's not what you've said and it doesn't really make sense, either. Third, a Virginia state court has no jurisdiction over a federal district court, so I really have no idea what your last paragraph is intended to mean.
Could you please try again? The link needs to be corrected, a correct statement of the case would be nice, you need to clarify which district courts and trial courts you're referring to, and the third paragraph needs to be taken out and shot.
And...to hopefully clarify the series of events, here's what happened.
Gnadt was found guilty in District Court. He appealed and had the initial verdict changed by Prince William Circuit Court Judge Thomas A. Fortkort from "sexual battery" to "assault and battery."
He then appealed to Virginia Court of Appeals, which affirmed the lower court ruling.
I've never prosecuted in Virginia state court, so perhaps it's normal for circuit courts reviewing district court judgments to change charges sua sponte, but it's more likely that someone somewhere asked that it be done. Of course, that would be backstory that may not be reported and which you may not have access to report.
Thanks for following up.