For five months, the 11-year-old girl was enamored with Amber Moats.
Moats, 23, showered her with attention. The two posted notes on each other's MySpace pages. They discreetly held hands, hung out and watched horror movies together at the northwest Omaha house of Moats' mother.
And twice, prosecutors allege, Moats sexually assaulted the girl. They say she even discussed taking the girl out of state — and changing the girl's name, dyeing her hair and using contact lenses to change her eye color.
But Moats, who insists she is innocent, no longer faces criminal charges in connection with those allegations.
The reason: She's mildly mentally retarded. And a Lincoln Regional Center doctor who evaluated her could not say that there was a “substantial probability” that she would ever understand how the court system worked.
The dismissal of charges has left authorities scrambling to keep tabs on Moats, prosecutors calling for the law to be more clearly defined and others asking the question: How does society protect potential victims while ensuring the civil rights of the vulnerable?
And it has left the victim's mother reeling.