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Former Norwich patrolman seeks change of venue for sex assault trial

The attorney for a former Norwich police patrolman charged with having sex with an underage girl while on duty has requested a change of venue for Nieves' upcoming trial.

Kenneth Nieves, 46, is charged with three counts of second-degree sexual assault and three counts of risk of injury to a minor. He has pleaded not guilty and opted to go to trial. Jury selection is scheduled to begin today in New London Superior Court.

Defense attorney Charles Tiernan III last week filed a motion to transfer the case to the New Haven or Middlesex judicial district courts. Tiernan claims that Nieves cannot receive a fair trial in the judicial district where he was employed, in part because individuals who have been questioned, ticketed or arrested by Nieves or his fellow officers are likely to be in the jury pool.

"The animus of these individuals toward Mr. Nieves and/or the Norwich Police Department, and the desire to act on such animus - and to the detriment of Mr. Nieves - is real and prejudicial," the motion says.

Such individuals are not likely to reveal their "animus" when they are questioned by attorneys, the motion says.

The motion also says that pretrial publicity on the case has been "inherently prejudicial." The motion says a change of venue would avoid the appearance of prejudice and impropriety, promote judicial economy and prevent the possibility of mistrial and/or reversible error.

Tiernan attached several news stories about the case to the motion and cited other Connecticut cases in which a change of venue has been granted.

Prosecutor Theresa Anne Ferryman said it was unclear whether Judge Arthur C. Hadden would take up the motion before she and Tiernan begin interviewing prospective jurors. Tiernan could not immediately be reached for comment.

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