Bill would close loophole that freed formerly convicted pedophile

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- Lawmakers are considering a bill that would close a loophole in the justice system. It allowed formerly convicted child molester Michael McFadden out of his more than 300-year conviction.

McFadden's conviction was overturned after it was ruled that his right to a speedy trial was violated.

Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubenstein talked to State Senator Ray Scott about coming up with legislation to make sure this never happens again.

“This goes back to my concern is about the victims in the cases, it’s not about the defendant because in this case he was convicted by a jury of his peers,” Scott said.

When it comes to the McFadden case, he got out because too many continuances were issued and the defense never waived their right to a speedy trial.

In the speedy trial statute, there is a list of things that don’t count against the defendant’s speedy trial rights.

The bill would add the time if a continuance is issued by the court to the list. The court must find though that the continuance is needed so that the defendant's constitutional rights are protected.

"We said we're not going to live with that and close that loophole,” said Scott.

Mesa County Resident Michael Day isn’t a fan of this bill.

"I think this is a knee-jerk reaction to public sentiment and a poorly written bill,” said Day. "Instead of drafting legislation such as this, we should be focused on how to put this guy back behind bars.”

Day said this bill has long-term consequences for all Coloradans.

Scott said it'll actually help protect people in the future.

"There are several layers when you get into this that people get a tremendous amount of leeway on the speedy trial statute. We want to tighten that up so this never happens again,” said Scott.

Day said there's no doubt McFadden should be behind bars.

"I'm concerned, I want this guy back in jail,” he said. "This is a feel-good bill."

The bill has to move quickly because the general session ends on Wednesday and any bill introduced in 2018 must be heard in 2018. Otherwise, it'll need to be re-introduced next year.

Rubenstein was in Denver on Tuesday to testify on behalf of the bill.

The bill is heading to the House Judiciary committee.

McFadden was originally convicted on 19 counts of sexual offenses.
He was freed when the appellate court ruled his right to speedy trial was violated. The Colorado Supreme Court decided not to hear the appeal from the Mesa County District Attorney’s office.

There is a grassroots effort to get one of the judges that ruled in favor of McFadden off the appellate court.

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