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January 10, 2017 - 11:49am

Sentencing delayed for Canisteo man accused of sex act with teenager

posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Darien, news.

Sentencing was delayed today for a Joel Bert Shorts, a 55-year-old Canisteo man who admitted in October to engaging in oral sex with a teenage boy at a religious gathering last summer because the probation department in Steuben County didn't complete a necessary evaluation.

Officials in Steuben apparently overlooked a request for the evaluation and didn't start on it in time for today's hearing.

Shorts was scheduled to be sentenced today and there was also going to be a hearing to determine what level he would be registered as a sex offender.

When Shorts agreed to plead guilty to the Class E felony of criminal sex act in the third degree, the agreement would give him a chance to avoid a four-year prison term and instead be placed on probation in Steuben County for 10 years.

Shorts was arrested July 20 at Darien Lake Theme Park Resort, where he was attending Kingdom Bound with a church group.

The new hearing date is 11 a.m., Feb. 21.

He remains out of jail on his own recognizance. 

The hearing is one of the first court appearances as the new County Court Judge Charles Zambito. Prior to the hearing, Zambito disclosed to Short's attorney the fact that the assistant district attorney handling the case, Robert Zickl, is the brother of Will Zickl, who is now Zambito's staff attorney. Zambito said that on this case, because Robert Zickl is the ADA, Will Zickl would have no involvement and would not be consulted. Short's attorney acknowledged the disclosure and waived any claim to a conflict of interest and said he wasn't concerned about the relationship.

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