OSWEGO — An Oswego County man convicted of sex abuse earlier this year had his conviction thrown out after a juror disclosed she is related to the county's lead prosecutor.
Paul Allen was convicted by a jury in May of felony sex abuse involving child victims and this week had his conviction tossed out following the revelation a member of the jury is a first cousin once removed of Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oakes. Allen's case will likely be retried before a different jury.
Oakes discovered after the trial a juror was his first cousin once removed and notified defense attorneys, according to Syracuse.com, which reported the woman raised her hand at the beginning of the trial when asked if she knew anyone in law enforcement but attorneys and the judge failed to ask any related follow-up questions.
Prosecutors opposed the move by Oswego County Judge Walter Hafner Jr. to set the conviction aside, arguing the case was tried by a different prosecutor and Oakes had limited involvement. The DA’s office intends to appeal the judge's ruling.
Allen, then 58, of Mexico, was found guilty of first-degree sexual abuse, a violent felony, and five misdemeanors that included forcible touching, second-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.
An Oswego County jury returned the guilty verdict after a multi-day trial, and Allen — who was previously convicted of forcible touching in 2017 — faced up to seven years in state prison.
The offenses Allen was accused and convicted of involved two different child victims younger than 14 years old at the time of the allegations, according to authorities. The incidents allegedly took place in the town of New Haven between 2005 and 2019.
Allen was arrested on two separate occasions in 2019, first in July for two counts each of second- and third-degree sex abuse, four counts of endangering the welfare of a child and three counts of forcible touching. Deputies said those allegations stemmed from incidents that occurred with two separate minors in June and July of 2019.
Later that year, Allen, then 56, was charged with two counts of forcible touching and two counts of first-degree sex abuse related to three separate alleged offenses in the towns of New Haven and Scriba. Deputies said those charges were related to incidents involving victims ranging in age from 11 to 57 that occurred between 2015 and 2019.
Following the May conviction, Oakes said Allen "has shown himself to be a predator" and "needs a significant state prison sentence to keep our community safe." The district attorney credited the two victims in the case for the conviction, saying the "two young women showed tremendous courage and strength by confronting thier abuser in court."
Oakes at the time said the outcome of the case was the result of a collaborative effort of the area’s multi-disciplinary team hosted at the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County, and pointed to the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office investigation and the advocacy skills of Assistant District Attorney Courtney Venditte, who prosecuted the case.
Allen was previously sentenced to an intermittent weekend sentence of 60 days in the Oswego County Correctional Facility and six years’ probation in April 2017 for forcibly touching four victims at Walmart and Ollie’s over the course of two days. He pleaded guilty to one count of forcible touching, a class A misdemeanor, in satisfaction of all four counts.
The forcible touching victims were between 30 and 41 years old, prosecutors said, including one employee at one of the stores and three customers, one of whom had a child with her at the time.
Prosecutors at the time said surveillance video showed numerous other alleged victims Allen grabbed, but several were not identified. Allen at the time said he was “truly sorry”, and promised to not re-offend.
Allen was represented inthe May trial by Syracuse-based attorneys Michael Spano and Michael Kasmarek.