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US court dismisses charges against 11 year-old Raoul

(AP) -- A Swiss-American boy accused of molesting his sister was freed Wednesday by a judge who said the 11-year-old's right to a speedy trial had been violated. Raoul Wüthrich is expected to join his parents in Switzerland shortly.

This content was published on November 11, 1999 - 09:00

(AP) -- A Swiss-American boy accused of molesting his sister was freed Wednesday by a judge who said the 11-year-old's right to a speedy trial had been violated.

Raoul Wüthrich planned to leave for Switzerland as soon as possible to join his parents, who left the United States with the alleged victim and their two other children after the boy's arrest on 30th August.

"Raoul is thrilled," lawyer Darby Moses said. Prosecutors said they doubt new charges will be filed.

The case created an uproar in Europe. Swiss and German media championed the boy's cause, saying the authorities overreacted by arresting him at night, holding him for six weeks in a juvenile detention center and shackling him in at least one court appearance.

Raoul was charged with aggravated incest and sexual assault on a child, and could have faced up to two years in juvenile detention if convicted. He pleaded not guilty on Monday.

A neighbour in the Denver suburb of Evergreen, where the family lived, said she saw Raoul sexually touching his 5-year-old sister in their yard.

According to court documents, the girl had also told case workers of other incidents in which the boy molested her.

The boy and his parents have denied the charges, saying he had pulled down his sister's underwear to help her urinate.

Lawyers for Raoul and his parents filed a motion on Monday, asking Jefferson County District Judge James Zimmerman to dismiss the case. They contended his trial should have started within 60 days of 8th September, when Raoul was denied bail. Prosecutors contended the 60 days began with Monday's arraignment.

Lawyer Vincent Todd said that no conditions were set for the boy's release and that it would be up to Swiss authorities to decide whether he needs any treatment.

Todd said the family plans to sue Jefferson County authorities, claiming that he should not have been arrested at night without a warrant. An affidavit for warrantless arrest was issued.

"This 10-year-old boy should never have been dragged from his home at 10 p.m. at night," Todd said.

Raoul's parents, who have dual U.S.-Swiss citizenship, fled to Switzerland after Raoul's arrest. They have said they were told their three other children, all girls, might be taken away from them.

Prosecutor Sergei Thomas said the judge's decision was technical and didn't comment on the merits of the case. He said prosecutors remained concerned about the safety of the boy's sister.

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