Scales of justice

A Natrona County judge determined Tuesday there is enough evidence for a local man to be tried on 11 counts of sex crimes against three children. Two additional charges were struck down.

Michael A. Griswold, 43, is accused of repeatedly raping a child, attempting to molest another girl and forcibly raping a 17-year-old girl. He now faces six counts of first-degree sexual assault of a minor, one count of first-degree sexual assault, three counts of third-degree sexual assault and a count of indecent liberties with a minor.

Griswold had initially faced a total of eight charges, but after reading a news report of his Aug. 15 court appearance, a third victim came forward. She alleged Griswold had assaulted her when she was 15 and 17 years old.

In court Tuesday, Griswold sat with is head bowed as his lawyer contested the strength of the prosecution’s case.

Ian Sandefer, who is representing Griswold, argued the court did not have sufficient jurisdiction for two charges, that there is not enough forensic or contemporary evidence for the remaining charges and that the child who claimed she was repeatedly raped is an unreliable witness.

The judge agreed that the court did not have clear jurisdiction on two new charges brought on behalf of a fourth victim who accused Griswold of molesting her on a 1998 fishing trip ,because it was not clear they were in Natrona County at the time of the alleged assault. Those charges were dismissed.

After the district attorney’s office introduced five new charges against the defendant, a Natrona County Sheriff’s Department investigator took the stand for nearly an hour to detail the allegations against Griswold, which ranged from repeated rape of a child over the course of a decade, to molesting a passed out 17-year-old, to attempting to molest a girl as she watched a Disney movie.

Under cross-examination, Sandefer grilled the investigator on the reliability of the girl who said she was raped over the course of a decade. He also implied one of the girls thought too highly of Griswold to have been the victim of an assault.

The investigator, Taylor Courtney, said it was common for victims of sexual assault to hold the people that had assaulted them in high regard, calling it a result of a predator “grooming” his victims. Courtney also said it was very common for victims of sexual assault to wait before coming forward.

When Sandefer asked why the primary victim did not allege assaults as occurring on specific dates, Courtney said it was because the girl was born with a developmental disability that impedes certain types of thinking.

The case will proceed to Natrona County District Court where Griswold can face trial.

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Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson


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