By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
A Madison County human-trafficking trial has been pushed back again following a judge’s ruling that the couple’s involvement in attempting to sell their baby in 2002 could not be admitted as evidence in the current case.
Anthony and Kathy Hart are accused of arranging “for their 13- and 14-year-old daughters to provide companionship and affection to male individuals in exchange for money and goods.” from October 2009 to February 2011, according to the original indictment.
After further investigation into the alleged crime, a Madison grand jury indicted the couple late last year on two counts each of first-degree illegal transaction with a minor (illegal sex act involving child under 16) and use of a minor under 16 in a sexual performance.
The trial has been rescheduled several times due to the new charges and later the question over whether testimony about the couple’s past bad acts could be used during the trial. The Harts were to stand trial Monday.
Last week, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Smith asked Judge Jean C. Logue for a continuance after the judge ruled testimony about the Harts and the 2002 incident with their baby could not be used in their current trial.
The Harts were accused in 2003 of trying to sell their newborn baby for $3,000 in Boyle County to a couple that was in the process of legally adopting the baby, according to the Kentucky State Police investigation report.
Anthony Hart pleaded guilty in that case to a charge of prohibited acts and practices in the adoption of children. Kathy Hart was found incompetent to stand trial due to a low IQ, according to court documents.
The Commonwealth sought to include at trial testimony about the 2002 incident, stating in court documents that “the Harts’ willingness to sell their children for their own financial benefit is a distinct and particular crime.”
Also, the state argued that the past incident was not unfairly prejudicial because “it establishes that (the Harts) are an unique and peculiar kind of parents – the kind that will sell their children for their own financial gain.”
However, Logue ruled the prior criminal act, prohibited acts and practices in the adoption of children, did not meet the statutory elements of the current crime of which they are accused – human trafficking. Therefore, based on case law, the past act did not meet the level of a “signature crime” that could be admitted in the current case, Logue wrote.
The jury trial was rescheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 3.