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Molestation conviction upheld

WILLMAR -- The Minnesota Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a 53-year-old New London man for molestation of three sisters.

In an unpublished opinion is-sued Tuesday, the appeals co-urt affirmed Patrick Ha-rold Smith Sr.'s convictions on second-degree criminal sexual conduct because the evidence was sufficient to uphold the convictions, because the prosecution was not barred by the statute of limitations and because Smith was not deprived of effective assistance of trial counsel.

The opinion was written by Chief Judge Edward Toussaint.

Smith, who is currently in the Minnesota Correction Facility at Faribault, was convicted in 2006 on four criminal sexual conduct charges and was sentenced to 54 months in prison. According to the state Department of Corrections, his anticipated release date is Dec. 1, 2009.

County Attorney Boyd Beccue lauded the victims in the case for their courage to testify against Smith. The young women had been abused during their pre-teen years and did not know the others had suffered until they were all adults.

"It takes a great deal of courage to come forward," he said, not only to come forward to tell law enforcement officers, but also to testify in court.

A total of six second-degree criminal sexual conduct charges were originally filed against Smith in August 2005 after the girls came forward to authorities. Then 26, 22 and 20, all three reported that they were abused between the ages of 7 and 12.

According to the criminal complaint, Smith allegedly sat the girls on his lap and would open-mouth kiss them and touch them. Two of the sisters also informed authorities that Smith made them touch his penis.

All of the occurrences allegedly happened when Smith and the sisters were alone. However, none of the sisters knew of the abuse the others had suffered until all were adults.