Summarized by Vickie Speek
'He Said, He Said' Key to Sex Conviction Appeal
Salt Lake Tribune 28Nov99 D4
By Greg Burton: Salt Lake Tribune
A Utah judge could soon rule on a peculiar case which would set aside
an inmate's conviction for felony sex abuse. In 1993, a former child
social worker, Richard Swart, pleaded no contest to charges he had
sex with a 14-year-old LDS patient named Edward Ryan Arthur. Swart
has fought to retract the plea almost every moment since he gave it,
claiming he was given inadequate investigation by his attorneys, Ron
Yengich and Bradley Rich. The case has launched a role reversal for
Yengich and Rich, two of Utah's preeminent criminal defense attorneys.
Swart's case centers on his alleged victim's criminal history and
medical records. In closing arguments now under review by 3rd
District Judge Frank Noel, Swart's attorney cites documents from
Benchmark Regional Hospital in Woods Cross portraying Arthur as "a
diagnosed sociopath, convicted sexual predator, liar and manipulator"
who "admitted having sexually abused at least nine younger children."
When the charges against Swart originally were filed In 1992, police
relied on Arthur's "recovered" memory of two-year-old events. Before
he fingered Swart, Arthur had made identical, unfounded allegations
against another man. When Swart pleaded "no contest" in 1993, he did
not know Arthur was in jail awaiting trial on charges he had raped
two teen-age girls.
In 1993, Rich told Swart that the Salt Lake County prosecutor had
withdrawn a proposal to reduce charges from three first-degree
felonies to two second-degree felonies, but that he might be able to
get the offer back on the table if Swart immediately agreed to plead
guilty. Swart, although continuing to deny the allegations, took the
offer (but pleaded "no contest") instead of risking a trial that
could have resulted in three life sentences.
Swart claims that Yengich, who has handled some of the Utah's most
famouscriminal cases, avoided his calls, skipped meetings and bullied
him. He says that both attorneys told him that "as a non-Mormon he
had no chance of winning in front of a Utah jury," and that Arthur
would be seen by the jury as a "Mormon choir boy." He says the
Benchmark records, which the attorneys failed to obtain, not only
discredit Arthur, but reveal serious flaws in the original case