Felony sex charge against teen dropped, other charge to be dismissed

08/16/2014 11:00 AM |

Prosecutors have dismissed a felony sex offense charge filed against a 17-year-old in May, and a further charge against the teen has been adjourned pending its dismissal, according to town court clerks. 

Seth Wassenaar had pleaded not guilty to a felony criminal sex act and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor charge, during his arraignment on May 19. The boy — who had been living at the Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch for three weeks — was accused of abusing another teenager in a bathroom on the property.

Mr. Wassenaar told Judge Allen Smith that he had previously lived in Texas, but was sent to the ranch because of problems in school; his family told him that he was not allowed to return unless he completed the Timothy Hill program.

At the time, Mr. Wassenaar’s attorney, Brian Francese from Legal Aid, told the court that his client was innocent and that the case was not as strong as prosecutors had portrayed.

Judge Allen Smith set bail at $2,500 for the teen after chastising Timothy Hill representatives present at the arraignment.

But in a court appearance before town Judge Richard Ehlers on July 21, the felony sex act charge was reduced to forcible touching, a misdemeanor, and immediately dropped by the district attorney.

The endangering the welfare of a child charge is still pending, but will be dismissed on Jan. 21, 2015 through a court agreement with the teen so long as he isn’t arrested again.

Executive director Thaddaeus Hill did not return a call seeking comment on the dismissal Friday.

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