EXCLUSIVE: Former Emmy-winning Fox 5 investigative reporter Charles Leaf has rejected a plea deal and will go to trial in December on charges of child sex abuse and possessing kiddie porn, following a court hearing in Hackensack yesterday.
“Mr. Leaf, is it true you’re rejecting the plea offer of 7 to 8 years?” Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi asked him.
“Absolutely, your honor,” Leaf replied.
“These are serious charges,” she said. “You’re facing significantly more time should you be convicted.”
Leaf, who joined Fox 5 News in July 2006, was taken into custody at his then-Wyckoff home in October 2010 by members of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit and the Wyckoff Police Department, as first reported on CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
After being interviewed by detectives at Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office in Paramus, he was charged with aggravated sexual assault and two counts of child endangerment. He also will be tried on charges of possessing child pornography and destroying evidence by allegedly deleting it from his computer.
Leaf, 43, spent seven weeks in jail before making $270,000 bail.
Two years ago, his wife went on TV and said that Leaf was set up by the family nanny (SEE: Court conference delayed for reporter Charles Leaf of Fox 5).
DeAvila-Silebi set a Dec. 3 date for his trial to begin and ordered attorneys for both sides back next month to clear up some remaining issues. This follows several days of hearings held behind closed doors because of involvement by the state Division of Child Protection and Permanency.
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Kenneth Ralph and defense attorney S. Emile Lisboa told the judge their respective cases will require 4–5 days of trial time, and that one witness requires a Polish interpreter.
Leaf has covered several major stories for Fox 5, including national exclusives on the Bernard Madoff scandal and the proposed development of a mosque near the World Trade Center Site.
He has also been on FOX News Channel’s “O’Reilly Factor,” “The FOX Report,” “FOX & Friends,” “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,” “America Live with Megyn Kelly” and “Geraldo at Large.” READ MORE….
STORY / PHOTO: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter