Arizona judge accused of sex abuse of underage girl won’t face charges
PHOENIX — Prosecutors said Monday they will not file criminal charges against an Arizona judge who was investigated on allegations that he sexually abused a girl from when she was 13 until she reached adulthood.
Charges will not be filed against Pinal County Superior Court Judge Steven Fuller because prosecutors don’t have the level of evidence needed to win a conviction, said Alan Goodwin, who leads the special victims bureau at the Pima County prosecutor’s office, which reviewed the investigation.
The alleged victim, now 25, told investigators last year that Fuller touched her genitals and buttocks repeatedly and also showed her pornography, according to a police report. Fuller, through his attorney, had vehemently denied the allegations.
The woman said she and the judge knew each other before the alleged abuse occurred but the Associated Press is not identifying her because it generally does not name alleged sexual assault victims.
Matt Long, the victim’s attorney, claimed that the woman was not notified of the decision to close the case and called it a “violation of victim’s rights and calls into question how victims are treated within the systems that are supposed to protect them.
“This decision by the Pima County Attorney is in no way an exoneration of Judge Steven Fuller,” Long said in a statement Monday.
“All this decision tells us is the investigation by law enforcement wasn’t sufficient and is a comment on the quality of the investigative work of Pima County, confirming what we already knew, that law enforcement failed this victim, as they do many victims.”
Dennis Wilenchik, an attorney who represents Fuller, said his client is pleased to have the investigation behind him.
“He did everything to cooperate,” Wilenchik said, noting Fuller underwent a police interview. “What else can you do when someone makes a charge like this with no evidence?”
Fuller is a former prosecutor who has served as an elected judge for the last seven years in Pinal County just south of metro Phoenix.
An attorney representing the woman who made the allegations had said Fuller presided over criminal cases after the allegations were made against him, raising questions about whether the allegations would affect his judicial decisions.
Wilenchik said he believes Fuller will seek a return to the criminal bench.
The alleged abuse was reported in late September to police in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa by a lawyer for the Mormon church, who said the alleged victim revealed the alleged abuse to her bishop.
Mesa police initially investigated but turned over the case to Pinal County authorities after discovering the alleged abuse happened there. Pinal County officials seeking to avoid a conflict of interest handed the case to Pima County sheriff’s department.
The alleged victim made a “confrontation call” to Fuller in early February in an attempt to get him to acknowledge wrongdoing.
Wilenchik has said Fuller denied the allegations and hung up.
He said Fuller would not be making public comments about the investigation.
- Arizona officials work to ensure wildlife have water during drought
- Weekend wrap-up: Biggest Arizona-related stories from this weekend
- McCain viewed more favorably among Arizona Dems than GOP, poll finds
- Has Republican Party been redefined under Trump? Sen. Jeff Flake says so
- Ex-high school teacher in western Arizona arrested in sex investigation