A man who says he was fondled by Judge Ronald Duebbert while Duebbert was in private practice has been allowed to withdraw his guilty plea to a felony charge.
The man claimed that Duebbert fondled him and offered to provide legal services in exchange for sex. The man claimed that he didn’t receive effective representation because of that.
On Tuesday, a judge granted the man’s request to withdraw his plea, and the case will now be scheduled for trial. The prosecution agreed to the withdrawal of the plea.
Jeremy Walker, the Randolph County State’s Attorney who will serve as the special prosecutor in the case, filed a motion on Tuesday afternoon at a court hearing and asked Associate Judge Thomas Dinn III, a visiting judge from the Second Judicial Circuit, to vacate the man’s guilty plea.
Duebbert declined comment Tuesday.
The 25-year-old man pleaded guilty to aggravated fleeing and attempting to elude police, a class 4 felony. On Sept. 15, he later asked that the plea be set aside because he did not understand he would lose his driver’s license as a result of the conviction. On Oct. 23, he made other allegations, claiming his lawyer, Duebbert, propositioned him, fondled him, then offered to discount his legal bill by $100 if the man performed a sex act on him while Duebbert was in private practice.
“For this reason, and without making any admission of the underlying allegations contained in either of the motions filed in this matter, the state will hereby confess the motion filed on Sept. 15, 2017 and ask this Court to re-set this matter for trial at the Court’s earliest available setting,” Walker’s motion stated.
The man appeared in court in a wheelchair with his attorney, Alex Enyart, but did not speak during the hearing. As a policy, the News-Democrat doesn’t publish the names of people who say they are victims of sex crimes.
The man alleged that on Oct. 14, 2016, just weeks before Duebbert defeated then-Chief Judge John Baricevic at the polls, the two met in Duebbert’s Belleville office to discuss his felony case, and that’s when the alleged sexual assault occurred. The man alleged Duebbert told him he would take $100 off his bill if the man performed oral sex on Duebbert. The man says he refused.
“He then reached into my shorts, felt the side of my body and grabbed my penis through my underwear,” the victim wrote in a sworn affidavit. “I freaked out. I froze up for a second. I felt disgusted. I told him I’m not gay. Don’t touch me that way.”
Eighteen years ago, prosecutors charged Duebbert with battery in connection with an 18-year-old man’s allegation that Duebbert fondled him. The 18-year-old was in St. Clair County Court to answer a burglary charge. He alleged that Duebbert offered him a ride to his office in his Lexus, then fondled him inside the car. Circuit clerk records no longer contain the case, so the disposition of the case is unclear.
Deubbert has said Democrats are trying to unseat him because he is a Republican and gay.
In the current case, the man said Duebbert introduced him to Dedra Moore after Duebbert was elected judge. Duebbert told him that Moore would be taking over the man’s criminal case. He would later plead guilty to the charges.
“To the best of his knowledge and belief, Dedra Moore was probably aware of his misconduct due to her representation of Duebbert and, therefore the incompetency of her counsel continued during her representation,” the motion to withdraw the guilty plea stated.
Moore has declined to comment. She represents Duebbert on matters relating to a case being investigated by a special prosecutor involving Duebbert.
A special prosecutor is also reviewing evidence submitted by the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis regarding an allegation that Duebbert obstructed justice in a murder case. Duebbert was accused of making false statements about murder suspect David Fields, who once lived in Duebbert’s Belleville home. Fields is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Carl Z. Silas, of Belleville, on Dec. 30.
Duebbert appeared before a grand jury in July. No charges have been issued against Duebbert.
The man’s trial on the fleeing charge is set for Dec. 12.