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Media coverage won't give accused Furnas County sex trafficker fair trial, attorney says
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Media coverage won't give accused Furnas County sex trafficker fair trial, attorney says

From the What you missed this week in notable Southeast Nebraska crimes and court cases series
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BEAVER CITY — Ongoing media coverage of his alleged sex trafficking case has an Oxford man asking that his trial be moved to a different county.

William Quinn, 56, appeared Monday in Furnas County District Court for a motion to change venue. His attorney Joseph L. Howard of Omaha, argued the amount of pretrial “pervasive and prejudicial” publicity and media coverage won’t allow for Quinn to have a fair trial, and the small population of Furnas County would make it difficult to seat an impartial jury.

William J. Quinn

William J. Quinn

He entered 22 exhibits of evidence supporting his argument.

He faces five counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child, two counts of human sex trafficking of a minor, three counts of manufacturing-visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct, two counts of possession-visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct, two counts of enticement by electronic communication device and one count of child abuse.

He pleaded not guilty to all 15 counts in September.

Quinn’s legal team hired an independent company who searched his name on television, radio and internet postings from Jan. 1, 2020, to Feb. 4, 2021. The search showed the number of unique visitors and pageviews of the postings.

Howard also claimed the media coverage used inflammatory language, listed Quinn’s charges, his bond and mentioned photos and videos that were found on Quinn’s laptop and cellphone.

“The nature of publicity is so extreme that he won’t get a fair trial,” Howard said.

Howard asked Judge David Urbom to change the location of the trial now, suggesting it be taken to a larger county with a great population where the jury hasn’t heard of the case and drawn conclusions.

Corey O’Brien with the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office said Howard’s motion is premature, and there is no evidence to support a change of venue until a fair and impartial jury can’t be found.

“Change of venue is not appropriate simply because there was pretrial publicity,” he said.

O’Brien said there was no evidence to show how many people in Furnas County have read internet stories about Quinn, and that the media has only been reporting facts based on attending court hearings. Reporters have not had access to sealed court records.

“We shouldn’t presume a fair and impartial jury can’t be picked here based on clicks of an article,” he said.

Urbom took the change of venue motion under advisement.

Quinn’s trial is scheduled for June 14.

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