Even though this is officially Day 4 of the trial, it’s more like Day 1. Opening arguments are slated to begin at 9 a.m. I’ll be updating hourly, if possible. I moved my dentist appointment, formerly at 10 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., for this explicit purpose, so here’s to hoping I can wrangle my cell phone away from the bailiff that often.
Updates start at 10 a.m. after the jump.
Plans to post hourly have been thoroughly thwarted. The haphazardly collected box of cell phones doesn’t lend itself to easy access. I’m on a recess for lunch, so here are my notes from the morning proceedings in time-stamped fashion.
Judge Benson, who is hearing other cases, reprimanded Doe family attorneys for setting up.
“I’m in the middle of a hearing, and I have many more hearings scheduled.”
Caught a glimpse of Father Stephen Swann’s photo on a PowerPoint presentation being prepared by the plaintiff. Perhaps he’ll be the first witness?
Benson kicked everyone out of the courtroom after chatter over cell phones.
Everyone is allowed back in, and it’s a packed house. The jury is all women.
Charla Aldous presents the opening statement for the plaintiff by quoting ESD’s mission statement, “All children are made in the image of a loving God.” Aldous went on to say that the evidence will show children who are hurt and who hurt the reputation of this “pristine school” are discarded. John and Jane Doe are present.
Aldous says J. Nathan Campbell, not only a teacher but the dean of the freshman class and the director of the Global Awareness Center, was ” an authority figure at the school.”
“This child fell prey to what this man intentended to do, and that was terrible. But what’s horrible is what this school did to this child after they found out.”
After describing how the abuse occurred, Aldous explains how the school reacted and perputrated “secondary victimization.”
“They treated this child like she was dirty,” she said, adding later, “It was a complete betrayl to this child.”
Chrysta Castaneda presents ESD’s opening statement without the aid of a PowerPoint presentation that she had cleary produced for this purpose. No one can figure out how to properly display it on the projector. After composing herself, she opens with a Teddy Roosevelt quote about hard decisions and transitions to this regarding the forced withdrawl of Jane Doe II.
“Even though it was painful for her at the time, it was the right thing to do,” she said.
Castaneda continues to defend ESD’s decision to remove Jane Doe II.
“It was not a punitive thing,” she said. “She was not thriving at ESD.”
A big welcome to the Dallas Morning News, who just made its first appearance at the proceedings.
Castaneda references rumors that Jane Doe II was discussing the relationship with students. Particularly the rumor that she asked other students to see if Campbell’s wife, Sarah,was wearing a wedding ring.
Castaneda closes with this:
” ESD very much wanted to be on the same side of the table as the family. They wanted the family to agree that (leaving the school) was in her best interest…ESD had a choice to make. It was a hard choice but it was the right choice.”
Lunch recess until 2 p.m.
UPDATE 2:15 p.m.
Judge Benson rules the plaintiff can ask questions regarding the 501(c)(3) status of ESD and its religious affiliation.
She also asks the attorneys to “slow your roll, so to speak” so the court reporter can keep up.
Father Steve Swann takes the stand and states that ESD has never been owned or operated by the Episcopal church.
“The only reason you can use ‘Episcopal’ in the school’s name is because there’s no copyright on it, correct?” Aldous asks.
“Yes,” Swann says.
During questioning, Swann says he has never given Jane Doe II any pastoral care in regard to the sexual abuse, nor has he even spoken with her about it.
Shonn Brown is a Jack-in-the-box of objections. Benson seems unamused.
Aldous reveals that Campbell didn’t have a teaching certificate. Swann says he was unaware of this.
Aldous brings up the fact that Campbell had access to a furnished house as director of the Global Awareness Center. Swann says Campbell’s use of the home, his comings and goings, was not monitored. Although Aldous said no sexual abuse occurred in the GAC home, she asks Swann if the fact that a sexual predator had unrestricted access to a home owned by ESD “caused him pause.” After several long seconds of hesitation, Swann says”Yes.”
With Brown still leaping out of her seat every few seconds to object, Aldous begins questioning Swann about the training ESD teachers receive on sexual predators, referencing something called an “Outline of Boundaries Talk” that was give in 2004 and 2008. She reveals the talk, which went over how a teacher could know when he or a student was “crossing the line” of appropriate behavior, was not mandatory. Aldous also states that Oliver Butler, the chaplain who led the talks according to documentation, doesn’t remember doing so. Swann does not refute either statement.
Aldous says another teacher has testified in her deposition that after hearing a student had been raped by another teacher, she didn’t tell anyone. Aldous asks Swann if this is unacceptable behavior. He says yes. She then pushes him further, and asks if this unacceptable behavior is evidence that ESD failed to properly train its teachers.
“Regardless of how she was trained, it was her action that was the omission,” Swann says.
Court takes a brief recess.
Court returns to open session. Aldous, still questioning Swann, says that Jane Doe II testified that she had sex with Campbell in an ESD-owned suburban. Swann says he has no knowledge of what Jane Doe II has said in her deposition. Aldous brings up the fact that Campbell used an ESD credit card to reserve a hotel room in which he later had sex with Jane Doe II.
“Don’t you agree that Nathan Campbell had no fear that ESD was monitoring his credit card when he used it to check into a hotel and have sex with a student?” she asks.
“Yes,” Swann says.
Aldous questions Swann about Campbell’s hiring process, asking if his resume and references were checked.
“I’m sure we did,” Swann says.
“How do you know?” Aldous counters.
“Because that’s our policy and our procedure,” Swann says.
(Side note: In opening arguments, Castaneda stated that Campbell’s background check came back clean before he was hired in 2004).
Aldous asks, “Do you believe Jane Doe II is in any way to be blamed for Nathan Campbell’s abuse of her?”
Swann replies, “She was a child…She was assaulted.”
Aldous again asks, “Is she to blame?”
“She is not,” Swann says.
Aldous questions Swann about a french teacher who admitted to asking Jane Doe II, “Are you the reason Nathan Campbell left?” This occurred a fews days after Head of the Upper School Erin Mayo sent an email to faculty scolding them for engaging in gossip about Campbell and explicitly instructed them to stop.
“This is another example of a teacher failing to follow procedure, is it not?” Aldous asks.
“Yes,” Swann answers.
Aldous introduces an email written by Mayo to chief academic officer Rebecca Royall concerning Jane Doe II’s expulsion.
“I don’t want the girl haunting the hallways with her said story for the rest of the week,” Mayo says in the email.
Aldous asks Swann if those words shock him.
“That’s simply not the Erin Mayo I know, who is a caring, kind, and loving person.”
Court is adjourned until Monday. Swann will continue his testimony on Tuesday or Wednesday because of a prior obligation to conduct a wedding ceremony out of town.