We had a truncated version of court yesterday, so odds are we’ll take it to the limit this go round. Nothing too noteworthy has happened since the trial went into recess Sept. 1 prior to the Labor Day holiday. Per a ruling from District Judge Sam Lindsay, the plaintiffs did win about $22K in attorney’s fees from ESD, but that seems like small potatoes compared to the $10 million at stake in the big picture.
I’ve got a couple of ideas on how to best commemorate the trial’s 21st day. OK, it’s really just one idea with a variety of options on the same mood-altering-beverage theme.
UPDATE 12:30 p.m.
It’s déjà vu at County Court at Law No. 1: Expert witness Dr. Rycke Marshall is on the stand, and ESD is once again promising they are going to rest their case today. We’ll see what happens when we return from lunch, when Judge D’Metria Benson has said she will rule on the admissibility of the plaintiffs’ rebuttal witnesses.
Today did have one out-of-the-ordinary event: There was a moose sighting. Daryl “Moose” Johnston, of Dallas Cowboys fame, upped the general handsomeness of the room with his presence at trial today. Johnston’s children attend ESD and he serves on the board of directors.
Marshall is back on the stand with Chrysta Castaneda questioning for the defense. Marshall references Jane’s therapy notes from Nov. 11, 2010, when she started bi-weekly sessions after a year of weekly therapy with Dr. Laura McCracken.
Marshall says a theme in the notes from McCracken is that the litigation (both civil and criminal) is a strain on Jane and her family.
“In my opinion, it seems to be something that in many respects was difficult and stressful for her,” Marshall says.
Defense passes the witness, and Charla Aldous begins cross-examining Marshall. Aldous brings up the fact that Marshall has testified in hundreds of cases through the years, and starts referencing one particular case from 2007 when Marshall was a witness for the victim of sexual assault.
“Do you agree that it is important for the victims to have a voice?” Aldous asks.
“Yes,” Marshall says.
Aldous represents that she met with McCracken before accepting the Doe case to determine if it would be in Jane’s best interest to pursue litigation. Marshall says she was not aware of this.
“Do you understand how a trial like this can give a victim a voice?” Aldous asks.
“It can,” Marshall says, adding that she thinks therapy is “much more helpful” in dealing with those issues than a lawsuit.
Aldous asks if the trial could help Jane overcome her anger and hurt from being kicked out of ESD.
“Possibly,” Marshall says.
Aldous defines “victim blaming” as when the victims are held entirely or partially responsible for the transgressions committed against them.
Marshall asks where Aldous is getting this definition.
“Wikipedia,” Aldous says.
Marshall chuckles and says she doesn’t agree with it.
Aldous asks Marshall if she agrees that blaming a victim of sexual abuse is the “worst thing” you can do to a victim.
“It’s a bad thing to do,” Marshall says.
Aldous asks Marshall is she disagrees that Jane was a victim of sexual abuse by Campbell.
“What do you mean by sexual abuse?” the clinical psychologist asks before saying, “Yes, when she was 16, I would say so.”
Aldous then references testimony given by Marshall in 2007 for a victim of sexual abuse. In it, Marshall says that all minors (under 18) are victims of child sexual abuse.
Aldous brings up Marshall’s testimony from yesterday in which she said Jane could’ve done things (such as telling someone about the abuse or setting limits on Campbell’s access to her) to prevent her own sexual abuse.
Marshall affirms her previous statements. “Yes, she could’ve done that.”
“Are you blaming Jane?” Aldous asks.
“Absolutely not,” Marshall says.
“You think a child who is undergoing sexual abuse should have the ability to set limits on the abusers access to her?” Aldous asks.
Marshall says that some children have the ability to set limits but some do not.
“In the legal sense, you know it was sexual assault. But you don’t agree it was sexual assault in the psychological sense?” Aldous asks.
Marshall says assault in the “psychological sense” has the connotation of “violence, force, or aggression.”
“I think she didn’t see any of the sexual contact as abuse until some time [later], after she entered therapy,” Marshall says.
Aldous asks if it’s the responsibility of the adult to set limits and boundaries in a relationship with a child.
Marshall agrees that it is.
Marshall shies away from calling Campbell’s behavior toward Jane “grooming.”
“I think it was flirtatious more than classic grooming,” she says.
Marshall says that Jane and her family were treated in a “humane way” when ESD forced the girl to withdraw on Jan. 27, 2010.
It “wasn’t reasonable under the circumstances” for Jane’s father to have a day to think about the decision to withdraw his daughter or to contact her therapist first, Marshall says.
Marshall says it is possible that Jane felt blamed after being told she couldn’t attend ESD anymore.
Aldous asks Marshall if any amount of therapy can ever completely erase the impact of sexual abuse. Marshall says no.
“It’s something a victim never forgets,” she says but then adds that not all victims will have difficulties in life after suffering sexual abuse.
Aldous shows Marshall’s 2007 testimony once again. In it, Marshall said that “there is always some difficulty” from sexual abuse, and that victims have “an increased likelihood of additional problems in the future … They’re just more vulnerable.”
Pass witness. Lunch recess until 1:45 p.m.
Marshall is back on the stand for Castaneda’s rebuttal. Marshall says she didn’t mean minor as anyone under 18 but anyone under 17.
Marshall also says the case from 2007 is “very different” than the Doe case.
“Do you believe Jane will ever have PTSD?” Castaneda asks.
“No, no, no,” Marshall responds.
Marshall says Jane has gotten past her feelings of shame through therapy, which is a crucial step in the healing process.
Castaneda asks Marshall to explain how she doesn’t blame Jane but still thinks she could have averted some of her own harm.
“It’s clear that the person to blame is Nathan Campbell … But I don’t see anything that would indicate Jane was in any way impaired in her ability to take reasonable care of herself,” Marshall says.
“What outcome do you see for Jane?” Castaneda asks.
“She has a very good prognosis,” Marshall says. “She has many strengths and assets … I see her as having a very favorable prognosis.”
Aldous asks Marshall if she thinks she’s in a better position to diagnose Jane than her own therapist, Dr. Laura McCracken.
“I don’t know,” Marshall says.
“Do you believe Jane willing participated in the relationship with Nathan Campbell?” Aldous asks.
“I believe she did,” Marshall says.
Aldous asks if Marshall is saying Jane consented to sex.
“No, I never said that she consented,” Marshall says. “But she did willingly participate.”
“He didn’t hold a gun to her head, but she was a minor, was she not?” Aldous asks.
Marshall says yes, Jane was a minor.
Aldous asks if Marshall believes Jane has “fully recovered.”
“I think she is largely recovered. She may have some residual issues that she continues to deal with,” Marshall says.
“The bottom line is, we will not know until Jane continues in her life what effects she will face, will we?” Aldous asks.
“I don’t agree with that,” Marshall says.
“And that’s because you’ve been hired by ESD?” Aldous half-asks.
“No,” Marshall says.
Commotion in the courtroom.
“Woah!” Benson half-yells.
Plaintiffs pass witness, and she is excused.
ESD calls John Doe, Jane’s father, by video deposition. In the video, John says he “had a lot of concerns” about his daughter staying at ESD before the Jan. 27 meeting.
“I wondered if it would cause too much tension for her,” he said. “I wondered what kind of environment would be there … I was concerned about her well-being.”
Before Jan. 27 John says he thought things had “modestly” improved for his daughter at ESD. He said he was surprised to hear Rebecca Royall describe the mood on campus as “hostile.” He agreed that, if it were true, a hostile environment would not be beneficial for Jane.
Finally, John said he didn’t see being a student at ESD “as a right.”
The judge just sent the jury home early so she can take up matters outside its presence. The defense says it’s ready to rest, subject to one more offer of proof.
We’re in a 10-minute recess and then ESD will present the offer of proof, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll get a ruling or two outta Benson before we all go home for the day.
Ten-minute recess turned into 2 hours of in-chambers meetings. The plaintiffs’ rebuttal witnesses (Former Student, Former Parent, and the recall of Father Stephen Swann) will be allowed. They will begin tomorrow at 9:15 a.m.
ESD presents an offer of proof on Marshall. Castaneda asks if Jane’s parents should have been monitoring her cell phone, computer, and whereabouts.
Marshall says that they should have, and in doing so they could’ve mitigated some of the harm Jane suffered.
“It’s very important for parents to know where their children are and that they are where they say they are,” Marshall says.
Marshall says the Does had a duty to monitor their child, and they failed to meet it. She adds that they should have changed Jane’s cell phone number as the school suggested.
“Jane continued to anticipate he would call,” Marshall says. “And she tried to talk to him.”
Castaneda asks Benson to allow the testimony. She denies it.
Aldous asks to present a one-question offer of proof on Marshall. Benson raises her eyebrows but allows it.
“Do you have any children?” Aldous asks.
“No,” Marshall says.
Court is in recess until 9 a.m. tomorrow with the plaintiffs’ rebuttal. Both sides have now rested their cases “in chief.”