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Legal snarl in Abbate case

Status conference forthcoming

William Leonard Abbate’s attorney told Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero on Monday that his client needs more time to prepare for trial.

Steve Lister is representing the McDonough businessman, who is charged with five counts of child molestation, nine counts of aggravated child molestation, three counts of aggravated sexual battery, three counts of statutory rape, three counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes, and sexual exploitation of children.

Abbate is out of jail on bond to attend Amero’s calendar call.

Henry County Assistant District Attorney Sandi Rivers is representing the state in the Abbate case. Rivers agreed to a status conference with Lister and Amero.

“The judge has already signed the order to obtain school records, from the public schools, and the Department of Child [Protective] Services in Prince William County, Va.,” said Rivers. “[Lister] was making the court aware of the fact, the order had not been complied with, and it has been over 60 days.”

Lister explained to the judge that the crime lab had not fininshed DNA evidence testing , which was requested by state prosecutors.

The assistant district attorney agreed to a status conference which was not scheduled Monday, but is expected to be held within the next couple of weeks, according to Rivers.

At that time the judge will try to determine why the agencies have not responded to his orders, she continued.

Abbate, 45, pleaded not guilty in December to the array of charges of sexual misconduct involving a minor.

Following Monday’s calendar call, Abbate said “no,” when asked if he had any comments about the case.

“It is not in his best interest for me to comment,” said Lister.

Abbate is accused of immoral and indecent acts with a child under 16 years of age. The alleged child molestation offenses reportedly took place in 2010 and 2011, at his McDonough home, and at his farm in Butts County. Other incidents are believed to have taken place in other states, according to Henry County Police Maj. Jason Bolton.

Abbate, in October, was in a courtroom in Prince William County, for an arraignment on sexual misconduct charges involving the same victim. He received a $200,000 bond there, according to Henry County police.

Abbate is a professional shooter, who acted as a coach to the alleged victim, and traveled with her and her shooting team to various states, offering instruction, Bolton said.

Abbate turned himself in to the Henry County Jail on Aug. 18. He was released from the jail on Oct. 27, on $100,000 bond, and was indicted by a grand jury in October.

Last year, Abbate was a managing member of Big 5 Enterprises LLC, when he acquired six hangars at the former Tara Field airport, which is now known as the Atlanta South Regional Airport.

Prior to his arrest, Abbate said he wanted to transform the hangars into a money-making movie studio in the Southern Crescent area.