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Supreme Court won't change child sex-abuse conviction

The Michigan Supreme Court has let stand the child abuse conviction of a man who says he was denied a fair trial. The man says the prosecution and the judge established a presumption of guilt by having the eight-year-old victim testify in court from behind a screen that shielded her view of the defendant.

The Supreme Court did not rule on the merits of the case. The court order simply says a majority of justices decided the case no longer deserved the Supreme Court's attention.

The decision allows Ronald Rose's conviction and 25-year sentence to stand. But it also leaves largely untested the question of what courts may and may not do to protect young victims from the trauma of confronting the accused.

The Supreme Court did not explain its reasons for dropping the case. But during arguments, the justices were surprised to learn Rose's attorney never asked for an alternative to using the screen, and some of them wondered if that meant there was really no issue for the court to resolve.

Democratic Justice Marilyn Kelly dissented. Kelly said the screen presented what she called "the unmistakable mask of guilt" to the jury.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.