April 14, 2017
The Platte County Courthouse, ordinarily a sleepy rural outpost, is abuzz these days with intrigue.
That's because a leading candidate to be the next U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri is the subject of an ethics complaint that questions the propriety of his conduct in a sexual abuse case prosecuted by his office.
Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd, who is reported to be a contender for the job of the region’s top federal prosecutor, has denied any wrongdoing. But his office’s conduct has triggered a legal brawl with one of the area’s leading criminal defense attorneys, prompting a cascade of court filings and questions about how certain witnesses in the case were treated.
Many of the court documents are sealed, but a petition filed last month with the Missouri Court of Appeals referred to their contents, including the ethics complaint.
The legal saga dates to August 2015, when Dearborn, Missouri, resident Darren L. Paden pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a girl over the course of a decade, beginning when she was 5 years old. ..Continued.. by Dan Margolies