Convicted sex abuser Chester Warren is returning to Oswego County today to face a second trial with a new judge.
The state Appellate Division, the state’s second highest court, ruled that Judge Walter Hafner should not have presided over the trial because he had had an argument three years before that with Warren’s girlfriend.
The girlfriend was wearing a T-shirt supporting Hafner’s opponent in a recent election when Hafner saw her at the Oswego County Fair, according to the ruling from the court. She filed a complaint that was part of a disciplinary grievance against Hafner that was ultimately dismissed.
Warren tried to get Hafner to take himself off the case and the District Attorney’s office did not oppose the request, according to the Appellate Division, but Hafner refused to do so.
Warren was released from Cayuga Correctional Facility in Moravia into the custody of the Oswego County Sheriff’s Department. (He was not released from prison, as a report elsewhere had claimed.)
He was brought to the county correctional facility and was arraigned by Oswego City Court Judge James Metcalf, who sent him back to jail on bail of $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond.
Warren is accused of molesting a 7 year old girl and showing explicit photos and a video to other young girls. He was serving a four year sentence.
The court’s decision was not unanimous. Two justices said that Warren did not show any actual harm from Hafner’s actions.