We began Monday afternoon, I was first. I was shaking so hard my notes were visibly moving. I tried to keep them inside the witness box so they wouldn't see them. I answered the A.D.A.'s questions the best I could and looked directly at the Jury every time I spoke. I was asked my name and who I was before she started getting to the abuse. I gave a brief description of each child and explained our dream of an open adoption. I gave the time line of the reported sexual abuse and their acting out with each other. The Defense Attorney cross examined me with just a few questions. I felt my body tense up and turned in his direction. He tried to get me to jumble up the dates and find out if other children were in the previous foster homes. It irritated me b/c I thought he was going to come at me. He never did and I was excused but not released. In case you are like me, I had no idea the Defense Attorney could basically hold me hostage out side of court for no reason. He simply claimed he may call me back up. I missed ALL the testimony. I was unable to hear what anyone else said until I was released and couldn't talk about the trial at all, for days.
Later, I was told who said what but it is never everything and each time I ask a new question I hear new testimony. Both of the fantastic detectives were after me. They spoke about the interviews the children had all the evidence they had gathered. They adjourned the first day.
First thing Tuesday, the kids lined up and testified. Cyr, Ella, Patches, Ruthie, Michael, and Ava. Some cried, some didn't shed a tear. One stared at him the entire time sobbing, another never saw him, most looked at the last minute and broke down. One refused to answer the hard stuff and lied to her siblings about it. One cried often and spoke of her own guilt for not protecting them from him. It was very hard to keep my own tears from falling down. I knew I had to be strong for them. If I broke down and sobbed, they would be lost. A few fell but I never lost control.
After they were done, their mother was next. She sobbed. She had a hard time telling all the truth but did manage to back them up. She did deny they had sex around the kids even though the kids all readily admit they did it in front of them.
Both our ATs were next. My DH and every man in the court room stared at Miss C. He swears he heard music as she strutted to the witness stand. He thinks it's so cool that our male AT looks so straight arrowed but loves heavy metal. Both were informational and explained about PTSD, Attachment, and trauma. They are specialists in sexual abuse. Mr. Jeff spoke about the disclosures and Miss C said there had been none in her sessions. She must have forgotten about the one that my child revealed she had been touched and it wasn't just the other kids.
The State continued with one of the ladies that interviewed the children for the officers. The taped interviews followed her. I heard it they were very hard to watch. Michael and Ruthie couldn't sit still in the video. At one point, the interviewer left the room and Ruthie went over and picked up the chair she had been in. Who knows why. It was typical Ruthie. LOL The State rested.
The Defense was pitiful. He was innocent. They called Shirley, their other mother. The woman that tried to keep them together, love them for the time she had them, and to this day keeps in touch to be sure they know they were loved. Without her and her husband, there is no way Patches would be able to live in a family. She opened her home back up to take her when no other foster home in that county would. She was too severe. Shirley didn't think twice. Her testimony was about some pictures she had taken of the kids many years ago in the tub, from the waist up. It was stupid. The CW at the time didn't see anything wrong with them when he had reported it then. She spoke of the sexual acting out the children did in her home and was let go.
He took the stand. He said, "No, Sir" to every question. He denied any involvement. He looked like an idiot. He is an idiot. The Defense rested.
The Defense Attorney tried to convince the Jury that I had told the other kids what I had been told by one child and convinced them all to say it. That it was too incredible to believe their parents put porno on the TV and then had sex in front of the kids. Somehow, they had confused another abuser with him or hallucinated all the abuse. He was grasping.
The A.D.A. was moving. She went through each charge on a chart and showed how many people had collaborated the it. It was clear. She spoke for several minutes about all that had been said there and why they should believe. She said, "The truth is never easy and is sometimes hard to believe". (Or it was close. I was so upset I can't remember her exact words.) It was perfect. My DH and I looked at each other the first time she said it. It explained a lot. She made the mistake of looking at me, her voice cracked and she was visibly upset. Several Jurors left with tears in their eyes just before 3 PM Wednesday.
At 5PM, the Judge called them back in. They needed more time and one juror had to go get her child. He let them go but asked they return the next morning. It was hard to leave without answers. It was a hard night. We returned this morning at 9AM. I noticed the Jurors were making eye contact with me. They were light hearted and were heard laughing several times within their private room. They slipped a note to the Judge about 10:30 AM and asked to have some of the testimony from their mother, one of out ATs and Ella read to them. This technology wasn't available so they went back to work on it. Before they were released for lunch they had a verdict. I was the first to hear they were ready and the first back in the courtroom. I was shaking. My DH and their maternal Gma sat on both sides of me. They didn't make eye contact with us and I was worried. The A.D.A. and Detective looked worried. It didn't look good. The Judge seemed to rearrange the papers for an eternity. Then we heard the each charge being read. The first ones were "Not Guilty" and I had a hard time keeping up. There were so many charges, some Guilty and some Not Guilty. I was upset for a minute. I tried to accept they had fond him Not Guilty on some of the most obvious charges. It then occurred to me that they really never heard all the evidence I knew to be true. They didn't know this was the 4th generation of sexual predators, he had done this to his own sisters, or that his own sister had seen their red bottoms long ago.
When they were done, they filed out single file. Most had tears in their eyes or broke down as they stepped away. One juror walked up to me and hugged my neck. She whispered, "I hope you children find peace with this". I bawled. It turned out these poor people had struggled very hard b/c they knew he had done all the things they were told. They wanted to convict him on all the charges. They couldn't on a few. Their father was convicted of 9 counts of Child Molestation and 1 count of Aggravated Sexual Battery on a child. The Judge mentioned the stiff mandatory sentences, they would be 115 years. He would die in prison. I am not sure what he will sentence them both to but we will fond out October 29th. Stay tuned.
I want to mention a few words about our incredible Victim's Advocate, Jenny. Without her we would have been lost. She is a wonderfully sweet woman that is very good at her job. I think this position is not flashy or given much credit. She was entertaining and supportive. She knew our needs before we did. She was the best part.