In The News

The ‘White Knight’ for Accused Child Molesters

By Tim Alger
Los Angeles Daily Journal

He considers himself a white knight, the only person standing between his clients and decades in state prison.

He defends accused child molesters, teachers, youth leaders, school principals. But he also protects other children from sexual abuse because sending a molester to prison only makes him a worse molester when he is freed, he says.

Such reasoning gains clients for Tustin attorney Paul Wallin. Teachers charged with sexual wrongdoing seek him out. And he’ll take any case – no matter how heinous he says – if the accused claims he is innocent or says he wants help.

Yet Wallin describes himself as a family man, a law-and-order conservative, a talented trial lawyer. He says a beer has never crossed his lips and argues that repeat drunken driven should be jailed for years. He enjoys talking about himself and his plans and opinions in bursts of quick, complex sentences.

He also has a penchant for publicity and irritating fellow lawyers.

Wallin, 32, provoked headlines last month when the District Attorney’s office decide against filing criminal charges against an Orange school teacher he represents. The teacher, ——- was arrested after police said he fondled several junior high school students.

In January, the district attorney’s office dropped child molestation charges against another Wallin client, Fullerton elementary school principal ——-. And Wallin, claims an unbroken record of 11 trial victories for clients accused of sexual activity with minors.

“Sometimes I’m the only person alive who seems to stand between my client being convicted, ripped away from his family, losing his job, going to prison and his freedom and exoneration,” Wallin said. “That’s a heavy obligation and it’s really what makes my job so incredible yet satisfying.

“You see, I’m able to balance those great cases against some of the not-so-great cases I handle,” he said.

Another client, former Cypress Boys Club director ——-, was charged with 46 sex counts after police seized a videotape of him engaged in sexual activity with two sedated teen-age boys. ——- pleaded guilty to the charges.

Lesser Sentence

But Wallin gained a victory of sorts when he and partner ——- persuaded a judge the crime did not involve force under state law. The ruling trimmed ——- possible prison sentence from more than 290 years to a maximum of 15 years. The district attorney’s office has appealed.

‘If this guy is a molester, I know he gets no help by doing 25 years in state prison.’

Wallin’s public profile-shaped by court appearances on controversial cases and press conferences-contrasts with his reputation in legal circles. Other lawyers consider him overly aggressive and frequently devious.

His handling of the ——- case, for example, angered both prosecutors and defense attorneys ——- case would have been dropped quickly and without damaging the principal’s name – If Wallin had cooperated early in the case, prosecutor Kathleen Kendle said. Instead, Wallin waited until trial was to start to tell Kendle that ——- had pulled down a five-year-old girl’s pants to clean her up after she accidentally soiled them.

Kendle said she questioned the girl immediately and decided she would not be able to convince a jury to convict Roseman.

“It was a credible story,” Kendle said “But it was a disservice to everyone concerned that he was not straight forward four months earlier.” ——- initially denied he never touched the girl, she said.

Wallin claims his tactics In the ——- case were correct because they worked. He said he warned prosecutors both at ——- arraignment and at a pretrial conference to do a better investigation. The police were “reprehensible” for not checking the girl’s story thoroughly before arresting his client, he said.

“If a guy comes in and swears to God on a stack of Bibles, `I didn’t do it,’ I take the case,” Wallin said. “I don’t care how heinous it is… if there’s no one there to advocate his side, whatever he did in one heinous act, the system fails.

“And if he tells me he did do the crime, yet he wants help, therapy, I take the case,” Wallin said. “You know, I have to think about the future victims, my kids, somebody else’s kids. If this guy is a molester, I know he gets no help by doing 25 years in state, prison. He’s going to come out and molest somebody else’s kids.”

Other attorneys who have fought him in court have grudging respect for Wallin. I Found he was very bright, very energetic, good at the law, and played the judge like a fiddle,” Deputy District Attorney Nina Brice said. “He’s a terrific competitor.”

Brice dropped felony charges against a Wallin talent accused of molesting an 11-year-old boy after a jury voted 11-1 for acquittal. She blames the verdict on bad rulings by the judge – who suppressed evidence important to her case – but Brice and other prosecutors credit Wallin with hard work and excellent pretrial investigation.

“He’s very thoroughly prepared,” said Deputy District Attorney Jan Sturia who attended Pepperdine Law School with Wallin. In child molestation cases, Sturia said, Wallin keeps asking prosecution witnesses questions in hopes of finding inconsistencies their testimony.

“This is particularly hard on children, Sturia said. Wallin he said, “is completely sensitive.” Another prosecutor, Chuck Middleton, said Wallin is “tough on the kids but he doesn’t come out and badger them. He’s very effective.”

In the ——- case, Wallin charged publicly that a teenage girl was lying about his client because she was angry over a poor grade. When the case was dropped, Wallin called a news conference at his office threaten a lawsuit and accuse the police of ruining his client’s reputation.

The police and district attorney’s meanwhile, declined to explain deficiencies in the case, saying their hands were tied because no charges were filed.

‘Leaves a Stigma’

Wallin’s tactics – of arguing his case in the newspapers-dissuades other victims of sexual abuse from telling police Middleton said. “It leaves a stigma that if you are ever thought to be a victim, you’ll also be considered a liar.”

But Wallin asserts that his role as defense attorney extends far beyond the courtroom and he must fight adverse publicity generaly start when a client, such as a teacher, is arrested. His partner, Talmo, echoes Wallin: “I think anything is fair when you’re representing a client. The client comes first.”

Wallin, who has two sons, ages 2 and 4 says he keeps his personal and professional lives separate thanks to a blasting stereo in his Jaguar and the 20-minute drive between work and home.

“I’m able to turn it off,” he said. “Any attorney who shows his moral judgments or his personal feelings as to whether the guy’s guilty or not to enter into it is just not doing a job. It’s really not the way to practice law to moralize.”