FORT EDWARD — A disabled Army veteran from Whitehall was convicted Wednesday in Washington County Court of charges related to the sexual abuse of a child he knew.
Christopher A. Casalino, 34, was found guilty of two felony counts of first-degree sexual abuse and a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child after a three-day trial before Washington County Judge Kelly McKeighan.
The charges stemmed from an arrest by Whitehall Police last December for his having sexual contact with a child under the age of 13, with whom he was acquainted.
He had been found unable to assist in his own defense shortly after his arrest and was sent to a secure state facility, but was later re-evaluated, found capable of standing trial and returned to Washington County to face prosecution. He also stood trial earlier this year. Although that trial ended in a mistrial because of evidentiary issues, a jury returned a verdict after one day of testimony this week.
“It’s a sad case,” said his lawyer, Michael Martin. “He suffered a traumatic brain injury from an IED explosion in Afghanistan and has never been the same since.”
Martin said members of his Army unit were killed by the explosion, and Casalino is considered 90 percent disabled. He has lost 140 pounds in jail since his arrest.
Washington County First Assistant District Attorney Christian Morris, who prosecuted the case, said Whitehall Police and his office were cognizant of Casalino’s issues, and police treated him with respect as they questioned him.
He pointed out that Casalino was found competent to stand trial.
“The judge will be able to take all of these factors into account at sentencing,” Morris said.
Casalino has maintained throughout the case that he did not have sexual contact with the child, but the girl’s version of events was corroborated by cell phone text messages that he sent to her.
Casalino is being held in Washington County Jail, pending sentencing Jan. 5 by McKeighan. He faces up to 7 years in state prison on each felony count, and turned down a plea deal offer that would have netted him a two-year prison term before trial.
Washington County First Assistant District Attorney Christian Morris prosecuted the case.