GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) – A Colorado man convicted in 2015 of sexually molesting six young boys and girls has been set free.
Michael Tracy McFadden, 46, was sentenced to more than 300 years in prison on charges he sexually assaulted six young boys and girls, but on Tuesday he was released from the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility.
McFadden appealed his conviction, claiming that pre-trial delays in his original trial violated Colorado’s speedy trial statutes. This past June, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the statutes were violated and threw out his conviction, also ruling he could not be retried.
The Mesa County District Attorney’s Office appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court, but the high court decided not to hear the appeal, thus upholding the lower court’s ruling. Because of that, McFadden was freed from prison on Tuesday.
Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said McFadden does not even have to register as a sex offender.
“I can’t even imagine the terror that these kids are now feeling,” said Kathi Raley, Victim Assistance Coordinator at the District Attorney’s Office.
After the news broke out that McFadden was freed from prison after being convicted of child sex crimes, Raley was on the phone non-stop.
“Several voicemails from mothers of victims who legitimately are fearful for their children and their children’s safety,” she said.
She, along with parents, are not the only ones upset over the decision. District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said the outcome is something he never saw coming.
“Frankly I am completely appalled with the decision. I find it offensive that our justice system would allow this to happen,” he said.
Rubinstein said that McFadden asked for a continuance of his trial twice, at which point a speedy trial was automatically waived.
However, on his third continuance, McFadden decided to assert his speedy trial rights.
“There’s prior precedent from other cases where the court has said that constitutional rights outweigh statutory rights,” said Rubinstein.
According to Rubinstein, there are two types of speedy trials: constitutional or statutory.
With a constitutional speedy trial, there is no timeframe depending on the case. However, in the state of Colorado, statutory speedy trial rights require a time frame of six months.
This past June, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the statutes were violated and threw out his conviction, also ruling he could not be retried.
“We petitioned for cert through the Attorney Generals office who does our criminal appeals to the Supreme Court to see if they would overturn the Court of Appeals but left their decision final,” said Rubinstein.
Because of that decision, McFadden was freed from prison, leaving many families in our community outraged.
“The justice system completely failed in this situation. If you’ve heard the phrase ‘got off on a technicality,’ this is the phrase to the most stark sense I’ve ever seen it,” said Rubinstein.
“There’s not a lot of help that we can give them. This is now a case that will just be dismissed and set aside, so it’s an unfortunate situation that we’re all in,” said Raley.
An unfortunate and terrifying situation that many never thought would be possible.
At this time, it’s unclear where his whereabouts are or if he’ll return to Grand Junction.