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INDIANAPOLIS | A former Robbins, Ill. police officer serving a 40-year prison term for repeatedly molesting a child in and around his East Chicago home has won a new trial.

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday that James McGee, 53, had an ineffective lawyer when he was convicted of child molesting in 2010 by a Lake County jury.

In its 3-0 decision, the appeals court said McGee's trial attorney, John Cantrell, of Hammond, failed to sufficiently challenge the alleged victim's credibility by presenting evidence of her documented psychological delusions and false pregnancy claims.

The court said Cantrell also mistakenly did not object to prosecution witnesses testifying that McGee molested children in Illinois, even though he never was charged with any such crime and that testimony was not relevant to his Indiana case.

In addition, Cantrell permitted hearsay evidence from a child services investigator that improperly bolstered the victim's allegations, the court said.

Altogether the appeals court found Cantrell's multiple errors established McGee's claim that he received ineffective assistance of counsel which prejudiced the outcome of his case, and a new trial is the required remedy.

A retrial date has not been set.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller still can ask the Indiana Supreme Court to consider reversing the appellate court decision.

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Statehouse Bureau Chief

Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.