Pasco Inmate Sues Public Defender

Pasco County Jail Inmate Sues Public Defenders In Alleged Molestation Defense

PASCO COUNTY, FL. – An indigent local man arrested and charged with lewd or lascivious molestation against a 15-year-old female juvenile has filed a pro se lawsuit against his appointed public defenders.

On January 24, 2020, Pasco County Sheriff’s Office filed a Complaint Affidavit about an incident that occurred on December 29, 2019, at 15007 Jeanie Lane in Dade City.

According to the affidavit, James B. Shannon, 26, was witnessed to have pulled the victim into a bathroom of a home “against her will” where several people were gathered. He allegedly groped the female’s entire body underneath her clothing.

According to a witness, Shannon allegedly left his victim visibly shaken after he exited the bathroom with his pants down.

The affidavit states the victim was able to identify Shannon’s color of underwear which was not visible prior to his exit from the bathroom.

Shannon denied being in the bathroom but the reporting Pasco County deputy indicated several witnesses saw him enter the bathroom with his victim.

The deputy also noted that the bathroom was “in disarray” with the shower curtain and rod pulled down, lying across the bathroom sink, suggesting a struggle had occurred.

But Shannon is displeased with his public defender Sara Beth Mollo and appointed assistant public defender, Robert Christopher Knauf.

Mollo is the Public Defender, a licensed attorney who is a former president of the Pinellas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and sits on the governing board of the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County. Mollo oversees 100 public defenders serving Pasco and Pinellas Counties through the Sixth Judicial Court.

In his lawsuit filed on November 16, he complains about his U.S. Constitutional rights under Article VI, ensuring his right to “effective assistance of counsel” have been violated, as well as his assurances – under rules of the Florida Bar – to receive “reasonable requests for information” and “proper communication” through his public defenders.

Some of Shannon’s complaints include that his assistant public defender “failed to communicate or negotiate plea offers with the prosecution, or failed to communicate outcomes of such plea offers,” and failed to make inquiries to him as to the defense facts or Shannon’s version of events.

Shannon also complains that his case has been compared to past similar cases his assistant public defender did not win, and that there was no defense strategy imparted to him as Defendant. He declares that he has been rendered condemned and convicted in the absence of defense facts.

Shannon is suing for $200,000 or for injunctive relief barring his public defenders from representing him or participating in his current case, or any future cases that may arise.

Currently in custody at the Pasco County Jail in Land O’ Lakes, Shannon previously served jail time for two misdemeanors.

None of the parties could be reached for comment.

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