When allegations began surfacing about why his adopted children had been removed from his home in October 2010, then-Columbia County Commissioner Scott Dean offered a strong rebuke to his accusers.
“These accusations are completely false,” he said in an e-mail to the news media, “and we will be totally vindicated.”
A year later, Dean would be found guilty on two counts of child molestation in the area’s most high-profile trial in 2011. Dean, also a former Harlem mayor, had been accused of exposing himself and inappropriately touching one of his adopted teen daughters.
The four-day trial this month featured Dean disputing charges from his daughter that he crawled into her bed at night and touched her. She also said that Dean, 42, exposed himself to her by opening a towel he was wearing and said he wanted to have sex.
A sentencing date for Dean has not been set. Child molestation carries a sentence of five to 20 years, according to Assistant District Attorney Parks White.
Dean’s home life became public when Columbia County authorities removed four of his five children, who had been adopted from Guatemala, on Oct. 27, 2010. A fifth child, Marlin “Lilly” Dean, 17, had been reported missing about 10 days earlier and was later found in Mexico.
Dean was re-elected as the District 4 commissioner in November 2010 despite the cloud hanging over his head and accusations several months earlier of sending inappropriate text messages to a married county employee.
He resigned from office in February, when he was indicted on the child molestation charges. Bill Morris, who replaced Dean in a special election, summed up the feelings of many Columbia County residents after the trial.
“I’m just glad that it’s over,” Morris said after the Dec. 13 verdict. “It’s been a fast ordeal. I just want us to move forward.”