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Judge Recuses Himself Following Claims of Bias in Delayed Outcry Child Sex Abuse Cases

(FORT BEND COUNTY) – A Fort Bend County judge has recused himself from an upcoming child sex abuse trial following accusations of bias against delayed outcry cases.

Fort Bend County 458th District Judge Robert Rolnick initially denied the request for recusal but reconsidered after additional exhibits were filed by the State. The additional exhibits include an affidavit from the jury foreperson on a previous delayed outcry child sex abuse case in which Rolnick is accused of inappropriate and biased behavior and the Reporter’s Record from the initial Motion to Recuse Hearing.


The upcoming child sex abuse case will now be tried in the 434th District Court.


The allegations of bias stem from a trial in August in which the defendant was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child. The victim was 11 years old when the abuse occurred but did not tell anyone until she was 17.


“Judge Rolnick’s conduct and demeanor plainly expressed throughout the trial his disbelief in the complainant’s testimony,” said the State’s motion to release juror information. “Not only were his non-verbal actions discourteous, impatient and unprofessional to the complainant’s testimony, Judge Rolnick’s behavior conveyed to the jury that her accusations were not to be believed.”


According to prosecutors on the case, Rolnick rolled his eyes, pursed his lips and shook his head during the victim’s testimony. At one point, Rolnick allegedly halted her testimony “abruptly,” declared a lunch break and left the bench.


Rolnick also allegedly declined to provide requested testimony transcripts to jurors during deliberations and attempted to declare a mistrial, saying at one point he was going to enter the deliberations room to ask if the jurors were deadlocked. Both the prosecutor and the defense protested, and Rolnick did not enter the jury room.


Prosecutors also say that Rolnick’s “displeasure with the verdict was visibly apparent,” and he asked the jurors if “they were sure” before eventually saying, “I guess I gotta take him into custody,” according to affidavits.


Following the trail, prosecutors allege that Rolnick made several comments to the jurors that caused emotional distress, including allegedly telling the jurors that he doesn’t believe in, or trust, delayed outcries and they should “talk to the defense attorney.”



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