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Counselor's lawyer in sex crime case accused of conflict
"The Oak Harbor and Freeland mental health counselor, accused of committing a sex crime against a patient, was charged Feb. 8 in Island County Superior Court with indecent liberties.Jolley's attorney is Christon Skinner of Oak Harbor. But in a motion for determination of conflict filed May 1, Deputy Prosecutor Michael Henegen argues that Skinner has a conflict of interest. Henegen is asking Judge Alan Hancock to order Jolley to get a new lawyer.This is where the case delves into some sticky areas of law.Before Skinner became Jolley's attorney, he represented one of the prosecution's potential witnesses in her divorce case. The woman claims that Jolley acted inappropriately toward her during a counseling session two years ago, and that she told Skinner about the way Jolley had acted.Skinner recommended that she not take any legal action against Jolley, court records show.Henegen argues that state Supreme Court cases clearly show that Skinner does have a conflict of interest. He writes that his concern is that this conflict of interest could be cause for a reversal if Jolley is convicted.On the other hand, Skinner has filed a motion for limiting evidence with the court. He asks that the testimonies of 14 different women, including the woman who was Skinner's former client, not be allowed to testify in the case. All 14 women claim that Jolley sexually harassed, sexually assaulted or acted inappropriately toward them in counseling sessions.Skinner argues that the testimonies of the women is not relevant to the case and any minimum probative value that may be obtained from the testimony of these witnesses is far outweighed by its prejudicial effect.In the indecent liberties case, Jolley is accused of sexually molesting a patient during a counseling session earlier this year.If the testimonies of the 14 women aren't allowed in the case, then the conflict of interest concern will be moot since Skinner's former client wouldn't be involved in the case.A hearing in the matter hasn't been set.The issue has stalled the prosecution's case. Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks said his office may charge Jolley with at least one more felony sex offense after it is resolved.Jolley is out of jail after posting a $10,000 bail bond. The state Department of Health in March suspended his license to practice based on accusations he made inappropriate sexual advances toward clients and filed false insurance claims.A state hearing on Jolley's license suspension is set for Aug. 28. In addition to the criminal and professional complaints, Jolley is also facing ongoing civil action. Two women have filed lawsuits against Jolley, claiming malpractice, outrage and professional negligence. "