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Retrial granted in child sexual assault case

Judge Gregory Hammond has ruled that a Sheffield man can be retried in the wake of a mistrial that occurred earlier this month.

Lorn Champlin, 64, Sheffield, was found not guilty on a count of unlawful contact with minors — sexual offenses.

The jury was hung on charges of indecent assault and corruption of minors.

A hung jury occurs when a jury is unable to unanimously vote for a verdict of guilty or not guilty.

Assistant District Attorney Casey Strickland filed a motion for a retrial that was argued Friday morning.

She said that the jury was “hopelessly deadlocked” on those two counts and that, because the offense where Champlin was found not guilty is not lesser or greater than the two charges that were hung, they should be retried.

Chief Public Defender Kord Kinney said that “retrial would create a double jeopardy issue” because the not guilty verdict on the unlawful contact charge meant that the jury “must have found the sexual assault did not occur.”

The reason why Hammond ultimately granted the motion for a new trial is fairly technical.

Hammond said that “retrial is normally not double jeopardy” and that the offenses can be retried when the counts to be retried are not included in the offense where the jury agreed.

“Indecent assault is not included in (the) other offenses,” he said.

Hammond explained that it’s long-standing Pa. Supreme Court precedent that the only situation where retrial can’t occur is when a defendant would be prosecuted for a greater crime.

These charges mark what is one of five pending cases against Champlin.

Three of the remaining dockets include sexual offenses ranging from rape to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse to aggravated indecent assault, among others.

The remaining docket includes 17 counts of possession of firearms prohibited.

Testimony at the preliminary hearing from last enforcement alleged that the firearms were discovered when Champlin was arrested on the sexual assault dockets.

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