As is explained on my Website, under a section titled “How do you know if the crime you are charged with is federal?” the government can take interest in cases that do not usually appear to apply under federal jurisdiction just because they become absorbed in a case being pursued by the state. One cause where this may also occur involves crimes against children.
Jeffery London, a so-called trusted member of the Broward County community was first arrested after sexual molestation charges came to light from one young man who was twenty years old at the time the complaint was alleged in 2012. In total, London was facing 27 counts of abuse.
London was a youth counselor with the Boys & Girls Club in Broward County in the 1990s as well as being a youth pastor at Bible Church of God in Fort Lauderdale. At one time, he was also a dean of students at Eagle Charter Academy in Lauderdale Lakes.
The unnamed young man accused London of sexually abusing him over a ten-year period when he moved in with London during a time when his natural mother was undergoing financial difficulties. The minor was between five and six years old at the time when he took up residence with the pastor.
After the first of these allegations was charged, nine more victims came forward accusing London of raping them when they were under his care.
At his first trial in March, 2014, the prosecution spoke in detail of the instances of many cases of sexual abuse that the youths encountered, and expressed to the jury what was believed to be overwhelming evidence of incriminating text messages. Several accusers took the witness stand with what appeared to be damning testimony. When taking the stand, Clive Lowe, who used to live with the defendant, told the jury that London asked him how long he thought most people kept their text message history.
One of his accusers was asked by the prosecution what he received in exchange for the “sexual favors”. He testified that London gave him gifts such as candy, money, sometimes entertainment games, and clothes. When the prosecutor pressed the witness about how much money was exchanged he replied “the most like $300 to $400.”
When London took the stand, he repeatedly denied all charges. His attorney mentioned all his accusers by name, asking London if he molested them, each time receiving the same emphatic answer of no. London continued his testimony by implying that his confronters “were upset at being evicted from the home he provided for them;” an unlicensed foster home nicknamed London’s Hotel, when they refused to follow his rules which included not smoking, attending school and following a curfew.
During deliberations, what may have been a turning point in the jury”s ultimate decision was when they questioned the judge about the definition of “reasonable doubt.” In answer, the judge told the jury that they should go back and re-read the jury instruction. When they completed deliberations, just after 2:00 that afternoon, they returned a verdict of not guilty for all twenty seven counts.
Despite the riveting testimony from four of the now grown men who testified that London molested them as children, the jury apparently wasn”t convinced, and may have believed that reasonable doubt indeed existed. London”s defense attorney was quoted as saying “I think it came down to no physical evidence.”
Although found not guilty by the Broward Circuit Court jury, London was not released from jail as he will have to face a separate trial charging him with the same allegations by four other men that claim he sexually abused them when they were minors.
But in December of last year the federal government took an interest in the case.
The government first asked the state to delay the case and then had the state drop the remaining charges against London in an agreement to indict him in a new federal case. The sole federal charge in the new proceeding would be using a cell phone to entice a teenage boy into sexual activity with him. The boy is London”s distant relative.
The new trial began in a Fort Lauderdale federal courtroom in mid-June.
The new federal charge is not considered violative of the Double Jeopardy clause of the Federal constitution because the elements of the lone federal count are different then the elements of the previous 27 State charges and was being prosecuted by the federal government as a dual and independent sovereign according to legal experts.
U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas heard opening arguments from the government and the defense immediately upon the conclusion of jury selection. The alleged victim spoke for nearly an hour. When asked how the abuse began, he said “One day, it just got weird… I didn’t say nothing [sic]. I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t know what to do.”
He went on to say that what began as disciplinary visits transformed into belt “whoopings,” then moved on to forced oral sex and then a one-time anal-sex encounter that he got paid for. He also said that he was given video games, movies, his first cellphone, and new clothes in exchange, or as a reward. He also said that he remembered the first time it happened when he was about seven years old. London invited him to sleep in his bed, putting his arms around him and then began licking his ear and neck. He went on to say that London then pulled his pants down, hugged him forcefully, and pushed down the top of his head showing him how to perform oral sex.
The prosecuter for the government stated that “under the guise of providing a safe haven for children in need, the defendant, Jeffery London, preyed upon the very children that he convinced everybody that he was helping.” She continued by saying that he did so by the use of “lies, trickery, deceit, coercion and instilling the fear of God in his victims.”
The Assistant Federal Public Defender argued that London was an “extraordinary youth minister who acted as a role model for troubled boys… He wanted to do something about the lack of father figures in young men’s lives… He taught them how to be responsible, he made sure they got an education and he taught them how to be men … and he’s repaid by these accusations.”
The defense attorney also introduced evidence of London’s alleged victims pending civil lawsuit at the time of the federal trial indicating the alleged former victims in the State’s unsuccessful prosecution were expecting a big payday in the pending civil lawsuit.
The text messages will also be introduced as evidence as the case continues. Check back here for further updates.
This story was first reported on my Google+ page. To view my commentary with a link to the article on the Sun Sentinel online newspaper, click here and scroll to the blurb posted on Jun 16, 2015
If you, a friend or family member is facing charges that may relate to sexual abuse or sexual assault, call now for a free consultation and case evaluation. My complete attorney profile can be viewed by clicking here.
Michael B. Cohen, Esq. is a Fort Lauderdale based Federal Criminal Defense Attorney dedicated to the vigorous defense of all criminal allegations specializing in cases of sexual assault and all other criminal allegations. Previously working as an Assistant United States Attorney prosecuting cases for the government and an Assistant State Attorney for Broward County, now practicing as a criminal defense attorney for the public for the past fifteen years in cases such as these, there is no substitute for experience and courtroom abilities.