VALPARAISO — A hearing officer is recommending the Indiana Supreme Court suspend for not less than a year the law license of former Porter and Lake County deputy prosecutor and current City Councilwoman Trista Hudson.
The action comes in response to the revelation nearly two years ago that Hudson failed to reveal during trial in Porter County that one of two alleged victims in a child molesting case made up at least part of the accusations.
"The responsibility of prosecuting is extraordinarily important in the administration of justice in our system and society," officer William Riley wrote. "The flip remark that it takes no skill to convict the guilty, but only the innocent cannot become even a shadow of a reality in our legal system or we take a deliberate course towards the abyss.
"This is a situation that is troubling, because it perhaps reflects a mentality moving toward the justification of ends at the expense of means. Our system is built on the means and we risk much if we forget that."
The hearing officer found that Hudson violated several rules of professional conduct.
Hudson could not immediately be reached for comment.
Hudson has said she did not intend any wrongdoing, but her actions cost Hudson her job at the Porter County prosecutor's office and resulted in the accused being acquitted on all charges.
A June 8 deadline has been set for parties to file responses to the February recommendation.
'It was an inadvertent mistake'
The hearing officer said one of the alleged victims told Hudson nearly a week before the June 2016 trial that he had made up the more serious allegations against the accused and was encouraged by his father to lie.
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Hudson did not drop the associated charge, allowed the jury to hear instructions on the charge in question and told jurors she would ask them to find the accused guilty on all counts, according to Riley. She also failed to share with the defense attorney and court that the boy recanted the accusation.
The change in evidence was not discovered by the court and defense until attorney Larry Rogers was questioning the 12-year-old boy during the trial.
Then-Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa acquitted the accused Portage man and ordered him immediately released from jail on his own recognizance while awaiting disposition of a final molestation count involving a third child.
The man had spent three years behind bars and was held without bond after he was accused of molesting four children. A jury found him not guilty in one of the cases in August 2015.
Rogers said all the cases were related and were part of a coordinated effort to frame his client.
Hudson has said, "It was an inadvertent mistake not intended, nor meant to be malicious."
She acknowledged the unfortunate impact the outcome had on the alleged victims in the case.
Hudson has said she has a strong ethical track record during her nearly 14 years with the prosecutor's office in Porter County and four years in Lake County.