Motion for change of venue denied in upcoming Mallo trial

Francis Brent Mallo

Francis Brent Mallo

REED CITY  — A former Evart man awaiting trial for multiple counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct will be tried in Osceola County, after a motion for a change of venue was denied.

Francis Brent Mallo, 50, of Loudon, Tenn., is charged with five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, with a four-day jury trial scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Aug. 26 in Osceola County’s 49th Circuit Court.

A hearing was held Friday after numerous motions were filed by Mallo’s lawyer, Lisa B. Kirsch Satawa, of Clark Hill PLC, including a motion for a change of venue.

The motion for a change of venue cited continued coverage by media in Osceola and Wexford counties, as well as “biased content and inflammatory public comments.”

The defendant’s brief in support of the motion for a change of venue states that “much (but not all) of the pretrial publicity came from Fox 17’s website,” and many disparaging posts were made in the comments section on the station’s website.

Other articles were published by the Cadillac News, Pioneer Group,MLive and Reform Talk, the brief states. Copies of articles were admitted as exhibits during the hearing, along with pages of comments on an article regarding Mallo’s charges from Fox 17’s website.

“Whether accurate or not, these comments are illustrative of the fact that the community is heavily emotionally invested in the outcome of these proceedings. This emotional investment would inhibit Mr. Mallo’s ability to receive a fair trial by an impartial jury,” the motion states.

Another reason given for the desire for changing venues was Mallo being well known in the community, having been raised at and later working at Pineview Home.

Ultimately, Osceola County Circuit Court Judge Scott Hill-Kennedy denied the motion for a change of venue, but noted another motion for a change of venue is not precluded by his decision.

Another motion filed regarding Mallo’s trial was a motion to quash charges, stating the victim’s testimony did not provide sufficient specific evidence during a preliminary hearing to establish two of the five counts of first-degree CSC.

District Court Judge Susan Grant ruled on Dec. 19, that there was enough evidence to bind that case over to circuit court on all five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Hill-Kennedy granted the motion to quash, which could result in amended charges when Mallo goes to trial later this month. As of Monday, Mallo’s charges on file in Osceola County Circuit Court remain unchanged.

The alleged sexual abuse occurred in the early 1990s at Mallo’s home while the victim was babysitting his children. In the preliminary examination, she also recounted incidents at her home and at a location near Pineview Home, where Mallo was a house parent at the time.

At the time of all of the alleged incidents, the victim was younger than 13 years old. If convicted, Mallo faces up to life in prison.

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Posted by Emily Grove

Emily is the Pioneer and Herald Review crime and court reporter, covering crime in both Mecosta and Osceola counties. She can be reached by e-mail at emily@pioneergroup.com or by phone at (231) 592-8362.

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