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Court Upholds Conviction of Mother Found Guilty of Aiding Friend in Sexually Assaulting Daughter

In In re Cherie Hyde, 2015 VT 106 (August 14, 2015), the Vermont Supreme Court upheld the grant of summary judgment in a post-conviction relief proceeding against a mother convicted of aiding a friend in sexually assaulting her own daughter.

Issue: Whether the State was entitled to summary judgment in a post-conviction relief proceeding where Petitioner challenged her conviction and sentence on statute of limitations, ineffective assistance of counsel, and failure to establish a factual basis grounds.

Holding: The Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment to the State in a PCR proceeding brought by Petitioner, a mother convicted of aiding and being an accessory to her friend in the friend’s sexual assault on Petitioner’s child. The Court found: (1) There was no statute of limitations problem because the statute of limitations for prosecuting an accessory to the crime of sexual assault with a child 16 years or younger is governed by the same statute of limitations as for prosecuting the principal of the crime (in this case, at least 6 years), not by 13 V.S.A. § 4501(e), which mandates a 3-year statute of limitations for all “other felonies and misdemeanors”; (2) Petitioner’s counsel’s failure to make the statute of limitations challenge did not constitute ineffective assistance of counsel because the challenge (as shown above) would not have been successful, and Petitioner therefore was not prejudiced by counsel’s failure to act; and (3) The trial court “substantially” complied with VRCrP 11(f) in establishing a factual basis during the colloquy, even if it did not establish an express agreement between Petitioner and the friend who sexually assaulted her daughter.

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