RANDOLPH — A 43-year-old man charged with allegedly attacking a woman near Bear Lake has been refused bail again, as attorneys argue whether the case should be dropped. John J. Sharkey has been in jail since being arrested in January.
Sharkey appeared in 1st District Court in Randolph for an evidentiary hearing Tuesday morning. He was previously charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault, both first-degree felonies; aggravated assault and obstructing justice, both second-degree felonies; along with six other felonies and misdemeanors.
Early on the morning of January 26, Rich County sheriff’s deputies were called to a Garden City home after the alleged victim walked naked to a nearby business, reporting Sharkey had assaulted her and locked her out of the residence. The woman was treated for multiple injuries, including frostbite, and transferred to a Logan area hospital.
The alleged victim told deputies her boyfriend, Sharkey, held her captive for several hours while threatening to kill her and attempting to rape her. He also reportedly strangled her unconscious, and dumped liquid into her nose in a manner similar with waterboarding.
The woman also described how Sharkey broke eggs on her head and face, along with other acts of humiliation. He allegedly videoed portions of the abuse with his cellphone and threatened to show it to other people.
During Tuesday’s hearing, public defender Mike McGinnis challenged whether new evidence in the case would change whether or not Sharkey should still be bound over for trial. He claimed the alleged victim was recanting her report of what took place.
The woman testified, she and Sharkey had a mutual relationship and that he had never forced her to do anything she didn’t want. She also explained that her reported injuries were from their consensual sexual relationship.
Prosecutor Tony Baird questioned the alleged victim’s change of story, noting how she had told law enforcement previously that she ran for her life from Sharkey. He presented photos to the court, previously used during a preliminary hearing, showing bruising to the victim’s body and her torn clothes.
Multiple times during Baird’s cross-examination, the alleged victim said she couldn’t remember telling prosecutors about the assault, and that Sharkey didn’t rape or hurt her. She later claimed to feeling pressured by law enforcement during their investigation.
Baird told the court, Sharkey was coercing the alleged victim to change her story. He described how jail deputies had recorded 78 phone calls between the suspect and the woman, some happening after a judge issued a no contact order between the two.
Baird said deputies recorded “hours” of audio from the calls. On them, Sharkey allegedly told the woman, he didn’t want her to testify against him.
McGinnis said that since the alleged victim was recanting her statement, the court should reconsider whether Sharkey should be bound over on the charges. He also asked again for his client to be released on bail.
Baird said the evidence against Sharkey was still substantial. He called the defendant a danger to the community and the alleged victim, noting how Sharkey recently was released from a Colorado prison after serving 10 years for assault with a dangerous weapon.
Judge Angela Fonnesbeck said it sounded to her like the alleged victim wasn’t recanting her testimony, but just couldn’t remember it now. She ordered the defendant to remain in jail and appear again in court June 22.
Sharkey didn’t take the stand during the four-hour hearing but occasionally whispered to McGinnis. He could face up to life in prison if convicted on the new charges.
Individuals arrested and charged in complaints are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.