Lack of jurors delays start of sexual abuse trial

ANDERSON — Attorneys were unable to complete jury selection in a child sexual abuse trial scheduled to get underway Wednesday in Madison Circuit Court Division 1.

After screening a pool of 59 prospective jurors, defense attorneys and lawyers for the Madison County Prosecutor’s Office could only seat a panel of 10. Twelve jurors and two alternates are required for trial.

As a result, Judge David A. Happe had to ask the office of Court Administration to call in additional prospective jurors Thursday.

While not unprecedented, the need to call in more people to form a jury is unusual.

The case, State of Indiana v. Robert Dewayne Coleman, involves allegations of child sexual abuse.

Coleman, 35, was charged in 2016 with felony rape, two counts of felony sexual misconduct with a minor, sexual battery, criminal confinement and child molestation.

Coleman is accused of having sexual relations with one daughter of a woman he was married to from 2010 until 2012, and the other daughter from 2010 until 2015 when Coleman and the woman divorced, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by Anderson police.

One girl said sexual touching began when she was 8 years old, according to the police affidavit.

At one point there was a confrontation with the mother, but Coleman denied any sexual activity was taking place. He allegedly told the girl to tell her mother she lied. However, the girl told investigators she didn’t think her mother believed her, according to the affidavit.

The other girl reported similar behavior over a period of years. She told investigators that after one incident, she ran away from home to live in Ohio, according to the affidavit.

The trial is expected to last three days.

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