Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Out of Statute, But Not Out of Mind

Now that the jury has heard from the six men (and some of their parents) whose mental health therapy with now-retired child psychiatrist William Ayres resulted in years of mental anguish, San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan will be tying things together with expert witnesses and with four out-of-statute victims.

Just because these four men will not get the satisfaction of having Dr. Ayres convicted for the genital exams they suffered (along with some pretty questionable “therapy”…) does not mean they have any less distress speaking of the unspeakable things they lived through. Monday’s testimony consisted of three of the good doctor’s former patients, and two parents.

Dr. Ayres is charges with 10 counts of lewd and lascivious behavior on a child under 14 years of age. Each charge could result in 3 to 8 years in state prison, and there is the possibility of a $10,000 fine for each guilty count.

Two of Monday’s bad acts witnesses are now in their mid- to late-30s; one is in his early 40s. One was referred to Dr. Ayres for “defiant behavior,” a second as additional therapy while undergoing “family therapy,” and the third for a (erroneously perceived) “suicidal ideation.”

Thus far none of the alleged victims are terribly bad hombres—they were boys with ADD or ADHD who were going through many of the growing pains both kids and parents suffer through at that age.

The testimony of Monday’s witnesses was a bit more chilling in that the men could recall some of the things they discussed with the doctor, and that the parents in two of the cases knew something was wrong, but their sons would not elaborate on what specifically had happened until many years later.

One former patient, in addition to having an unrequested “physical,” clearly recalls in his very first visit how Dr. Ayres initiated a conversation about sexual thoughts, eventually leading to a graphic conversation about the clitoris, where to find it, how to initiate foreplay with a girl, and how elastic the tissue in the vagina is and how far a penis can go into it.

Although he knew about the birds and the bees, at the time of this conversation, the boy was in 7th grade, and not anywhere near being sexually active!

“I had no idea why I was getting that talk.”

Unlike most of the other alleged victims, this boy did not get his physical exam until a subsequent visit. He did not ask for a physical, his parents were not informed of the results of the physical. The doctor told him the physical was to check his “general health.”

Remember what we learned from Dr. Lynn Ponton: Parents must make specific consent, and the child must assent, to any physical examination. Both the parents and the child must be given the “results” of the exam, and the child’s modesty must be ensured.

This man remembers the doctor listening to his chest and abdomen with a stethoscope, and palpating his thorax and belly, working his way down to the boy’s groin. He asked the boy to rise from the table (not a proper MD’s exam table!) and remove his underwear. Ayres then proceeded to check the boy for a hernia by pushing around his perineum and underneath his testes, asking him to cough.

After the exam, Dr. Ayres and the boy had their regular session, though the former patient can’t recall the specific content.

He was never sure that anything he’d undergone was illegal but he didn’t feel it was “right” either.

Interestingly, this same patient returned to Dr. Ayres when he got caught imbibing in alcohol at the age or 15 or 16. He clearly recalls getting NO physical exam of any type.

Another former patient has grown up to become a marriage and family therapist, having earned a master’s degree in clinical psychology. When asked to point Dr. Ayres out for the record, he clearly pointed toward the defense table.

This former patient did not get his “physical” at the first visit; he recalls it was his second or third visit, and he was lead to believe by the doctor was that it was just “something he did.”

The young man undressed in front of Ayres, putting his clothes in a pile. The doctor, who was sitting at his desk, asked the boy to approach, and Ayres proceeded to touch the boy’s arms and chest, saying nothing. Suddenly the doctor said he had to check the boy’s penis to make sure the “hole was in the center.” The alleged victim describes how the doctor pulled on his foreskin and pulled his penis straight up. When describing the motions made, this witness make “jerking off” movements.

“I was scared, scared me half to death. I went back for my clothes.” As politely as possible, the boy concluded the appointment, despite the doctor’s efforts to engage him in conversation.

He ran the 2 ½ miles home and announced to his astonished parents who were readying to pick him up from his appointment, “I never want to see him (the doctor) again. He’s sick. He’s dirty.” His parents were confused by his reaction, and tried to reassure him that a physical was normal. The boy was unable to really describe what had happened to him.

He did end up going back (“Because my parents asked me to.”), but did not fully participate in his therapy. “If I said nothing, he’d figure there was nothing to do.”

On cross-examination, defense attorney Doron Weinberg did make a couple of excellent points. This witness did see an article in the paper concerning the civil suit brought by Steven A., which was sent to him by his dad. By this point, he was fully reconciled that what had happened to him during “therapy” was wrong, and went to Craigslist to see if there were other victims of Ayres. He learned there was a phone number to call for the San Mateo police, and he followed up with a phone call.

Weinberg asked if this former patient has talked to any of the other victims in this case, or if he’d learned the circumstances of any other cases by making contact with the person who’d placed the Craigslist ad, freelance author Victoria Belfour. He denied he’d had any contact with any other victims, that he did not know the details of any other alleged molestations, and that no one had told him what to say—he’d told the police the truth.

Then Weinberg asked if he knew about being a mandated reporter. This former patient of Ayres is today a mandated reporter. Weinberg asked why he did not report Dr. Ayres once he’d learned he was a mandated reporter, and the man replied that he was more focused on the curriculum to become a mental health professional than the need to report his own molestation.

“I feel bad I did not report.”

This victim’s father did testify and did not bend to Weinberg’s cross-examination. The father testified that his son said, “Dr. Ayres is a dirty man,” after his very first appointment. He also reported that after one session, Dr. Ayres’ stated that his son “wants what he wants, when he wants it.”

The final two witnesses of the day were a now 39-year old man and his mom. This young man ended up in therapy because of a misperceived “suicide note.” A teacher has intercepted a love letter he’d written to a girl, and he ended the note with the quote “I would die 4 U.” If that sounds familiar, this incident happened in December 1984, and that phrase was from a song by Prince.

He was in no way suicidal; he’d been at the school for about a month and a half and the teachers didn’t know him very well.

The school board recommended the boy get therapy and referred him to Dr. Ayres.

This was not the first time this boy had seen a psychiatrist; he’d seen one when he was 4 or 5 years old, when he and his sister were adopted by their parents after having been in foster care.

On his very first appointment with the good doctor, he was brought into the office and was asked to remove his shirt and get up on the counter or table (it’s been described as both by previous witnesses). Dr. Ayres touched the boy’s arms up and down, and the boy was told the doctor was checking for track marks (the boy was not a drug abuser—remember, he was there for a “suicide note.”). He was visibly uncomfortable describing this, and it got worse.

Dr. Ayres asked the boy to lie back while he pressed down on the boy’s belly, working his way toward his pubic area. The boy was uncomfortable and moved the doctor’s hand away. Ayres assured the boy that this part of the exam was normal, and then pulled the boy’s pants and underwear down, taking his penis out, inspecting it with his left hand, and then tucked it back into his pants.

The boy then got dressed and the session began. He was terribly uncomfortable—“I’ve always been a very modest person,” the soft-spoken man said. For the remainder of his “therapy” with the doctor, he stayed guarded during all sessions. “I didn’t think other people would think it (what had happened during the physical exam) was a big deal.”

On what he remembers as his last visit, in May 1985, Dr. Ayres asked the boy to stand up and pull his pants down. “He said there was something he needed to check.” While the boy was standing, Dr. Ayres sat in a chair next to him and showed him photos of naked boys in what he believed was a medical text—it had captions beneath the photos, and the boys were just standing, not posed. The doctor turned the pages of the book with one hand, and with the other, held the boy’s penis in the palm of his hand for “more than one minute but less than two.”

The boy’s penis began to get erect. He pulled his pants up, embarrassed. “I was mortified.” The doctor continued the session by asking the boy if he masturbated, and how often. The remainder of that session consisted of sexuality questions.

“I just wanted to leave.”

A little over two years later, he was able to tell his mother everything. Through her own testimony, his mom, who was undergoing therapy of her own, told her therapist, who told her he was a mandated reporter, and by law had to report what she’d told him. She did receive follow-up call from San Mateo police, as did her son.

They heard no more. Strangely, the mom received a $1000 check from Dr. Ayres’ office, funds she was not expecting. When she queried the doctor’s office, she was told the refund was due to an accounting error. There was no way she was going to accept the blood money, and she turned the check over to San Mateo police.

What the jury did not hear (yet?) is that the check was lost by the police!

In 2004, the boy’s mother sent him a copy of an article about the civil case against Dr. Ayres. Upon reading the article, “I had a full-on panic attack, and it took me an hour to calm down.” He then got the name of the civil attorney in that case and contacted him, offering to help that case in any way he could. He told that attorney everything.

Knowing his own case was out of statute, he filed a complaint against Dr. Ayres with the medical board in 2005. “People have to know about this.”

This former patient does have a civil claim pending against Dr. Ayres. “There’s nothing else I can do—it’s about justice.”

Every witness today was utterly credible, in my eyes.

Testimony will continue on Wednesday with the last of the “prior bad acts” witnesses.

Readers please note: We will not approve off-topic posts. That means this is not the place to discuss Michael Jackson’s child molestation case and ultimately his death, among other things. This article is about the “alleged” victims of Dr. William Ayres, their courage, and their testimony in this trial.

Ayres Trial, Week Five, Day One: Ayres says to a Parent: "Isn't it a Lovely Day?"

Former patient testifies Ayres talked to him about sex, performed genital exam

More claim molestation by therapist

Ayres talked about sex, performed genital exam, ex-patient testifies

California Penal Code Section 288

Markers & Goals, III

Back in November, 2008 T&T reached 400,000 page loads. Today, just a little over 7 months later, T&T has reached a new marker. 1 million page views and over 675 thousand unique visitors. We think that's pretty good for only being on the net for 2 years.

Besides myself, donchais, ritanita and CaliGirl9 all want to say to our loyal readers, Thank you so much for stopping by.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Mandated Reporter

Friday’s witness in the Dr. William Ayres trial, Dr. Lynn Ponton, was my reason for having interest in attending these proceedings. She and I have something in common—we are both mandated reporters.

I had not heard of Dr. Ponton before this trial. Honestly, why would I? Child and adolescent psychiatry and child and adolescent abuse isn’t something I think about every day. And honestly, I was not fully positive of the defendant’s guilt (though as part of my nursing training, I learned to believe what a child tells you until what he or she says is known or proven by people with more expertise than I that the child is being deceitful). Just how far does a doctor (or nurse, in my case) have to go for something to cross the line and become abuse? Neglect is pretty easy to see—a hungry, dirty, perhaps socially isolated child. Physical abuse such as a child with bruises or broken bones is pretty easy to observe and diagnose with certainty as well. But sexual abuse is pretty hard to objectively see—and short of intercourse, exactly when does a physical exam given by a medical professional cross the line into lewd and lascivious behavior?

I thought back to my own career and wondered if I’d ever crossed that line. I used to do most of my work in two areas: maternal/child (specifically labor and delivery) and ER. Obviously when monitoring a pregnant woman and her baby in labor requires plenty of intimate touching. Had I ever crossed the line? Had anyone ever felt I’d gone too far during an internal exam for cervical dilatation? And worse yet—I’d been the monitoring nurse for adolescent girls in labor. Just because they are “old” enough to have intercourse and get pregnant doesn’t mean they are necessarily ready developmentally.

So really, in the back of my mind I could have been convinced that this was all a huge misunderstanding. Hasn’t happened yet.

What did I mean when I wrote Dr. Ponton and I are both mandated reporters? In California, people who work in certain occupations are required by law to report suspected child abuse. We don’t need to be able to prove it, but even the slightest suspicion means we must report it.

The law requiring reporting of child abuse, PC Section 11164-11174.3, specifically describes exactly what sexual abuse is in the subheading 11165.1. It also provides a list of mandated reporters in subheading 11165.7—item 21 lists licensed medical professionals who are required to report.

I have reported suspected child abuse in the L & D setting. I can think of one specific instance where I watched the woman (who had hepatitis) and her significant other drive up to the hospital’s emergency room, pull out her “kit” and give herself a shot of heroin before she came in to deliver her third addicted baby (that was in short order removed from her custody, just like the two previous and the two she’d have later). But I never encountered child sexual abuse—at least none that I ever recognized (and a pregnant girl wasn’t something I could report).

Dr. Ponton was only one in a very short list of mandated reporters in this case. Others had tried and been shrugged off because of the good doctor’s esteemed reputation. However, she was the one that the authorities finally listened to. She had evaluated Steven A. when he finally sought to right the wrong that had been done to him so many years before. Despite the fact Steven was an adult in his 40s at the time, Dr. Ponton was obliged to report the abuse—and she did.

As always, I refer the reader to the William Hamilton Ayres Watchdog site for additional description and insider information. I would like to add something about the morning’s proceedings, which were very well summarized by that site's corespondents.

Dr. Ponton, a tall and very attractive blonde woman who has a quick sincere smile and who looks years younger than her chronological age (she attended medical school in the 1970s) listed several conditions, part of a standard of care, that need to be met whenever a psychiatrist elects to perform a physical exam on a child.

1. Consent of the parents is utterly necessary

2. Assent of the child is necessary

3. The child’s modesty must be protected with drapes and while disrobing. Having a third person present for genital exams is a consideration.

4. The child’s genitals are never massaged or masturbated or examined to the point of ejaculation.

5. Results of the physical exam are noted in the chart and discussed with the parents and the patient.

6. The physical exam is never performed for the benefit of the physician.

7. The doctor must be aware that children have special needs, and that a child in a psychiatric setting is being seen because of a psychiatric health issue.

Perhaps having learned what happened in the Spector trial regarding dueling expert witnesses, San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan queried Dr. Ponton very early in her testimony regarding her fees ($650 an hour as a private expert witness; $300 an hour discounted to the county). I have no doubt she will ask about fees when defense attorney Doron Weinberg trots out his expert witnesses, one of whom is known to be Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, yes, the memory expert who testified in the Phil Spector trial.

At least once during Dr. Ponton’s testimony I saw Weinberg do “that thing” with his lips.

Right off the bat Weinberg objected to Dr. Ponton’s testimony of the “red flags” list. He claimed he’d not been given the medical records, police records or her report in a timely manner. He said he was not prepared and could not conduct a proper cross-examination because he did not know what materials Dr. Ponton had used to create the red flag list.

He’d already tried to delay Dr. Ponton’s testimony on Tuesday, saying that the prosecution hadn’t gotten her report to him in a timely manner (he was offered the report Sunday, June 21, but did not have a decent fax machine. The report was delivered early Monday afternoon, June 22).

Weinberg asked that Dr. Ponton’s testimony regarding the red flags be delayed until Monday, June 29, so he could better prepare.

McKowan was ready for this now well-known Weinberg tactic (delay delay delay) and stated he has had the police reports and the available medical charts in his possession from the beginning. Dr. Ponton is unavailable on Monday morning—she starts a new child and adolescent pediatric psychology rotation with new students on Monday. McKowan also noted she'd not yet received one of the defense's expert witness reports yet either—one she'd asked for a couple of times.

Dr. Ponton was asked if she could be available on Monday, and she reluctantly said she could try to shift some responsibilities, but she had to be back in San Francisco by 2 p.m.

Judge Beth Freeman asked Weinberg if he could look over the charts during lunch, and he obligingly said he’d try.

Weinberg was not allowed to delay Dr. Ponton’s testimony though there was the possibility she would have to return on Monday. As it turned out, her testimony finished early Friday afternoon.

The red flags list, which is summarized on the Watchdog blog, were created by Dr. Ponton by reading through the alleged victims’ medical charts (when available; read into evidence later in the day is the reason some charts might not be available: records from 1977 to 1982 were destroyed because of a corporate decision [Dr. Ayres was in a group practice at the time]) and police reports.

The red flag list was the source of plenty of objections from Weinberg (irritating a few jurors in the process—I observed a few heavy sighs and rolling eyes in the jury box whenever the defense attorney got nit picky [rightly so] over McKowan forgetting to preface a case history by saying “in a hypothetical case where …” I also overheard her [from across the room] say “This is ridiculous” when a sidebar was called because of one of Weinberg’s objections). The red flags are the areas where Ayres failed to maintain a proper standard of care when administering physical exams in a psychiatric setting.

An interesting remark made by Dr. Ponton regarding testing for learning disabilities and ADD/ADHA tend to be more in the realm of psychologists. Psychiatrists are of course aware of the tests, but a psychiatrist would be involved in prescribing medication, something, of course, a psychologist (who may have a Ph.D. but not a medical license which is needed to prescribe medication) cannot legally do.

There are contrasting schools of thought regarding the appropriateness of physical exams of children in a psychiatric setting. As revealed in a noted psychiatric textbook, there are a group of practitioners who believe that physical exams are nearly never done (One thing lay people must understand about the practice of medicine: one cannot say something is “never” or “always” done. Even though medicine is a science, it is not an exact science where absolutes can be assigned.), and another group (Greenhill and others) that believe physical exams are underutilized in the psychiatric setting.

But even in making that statement, there are ways to mislead a jury, and Weinberg did an excellent job of getting the jury to take notice of the “physicals are underutilized” school of thought. What he cleverly did was read a partial passage from a psychiatric textbook that made that statement.

What McKowan equally as cleverly did to shoot that statement down was to have Dr. Ponton read additional passages from the section—statements that further defines the specific situations in which a psychiatrist could perform a physical exam.

ADD, ADHD, self-esteem, and impulse issues aren’t on the list. And the few things that are on the list—including an evaluation of enuresis (bedwetting)—qualify the need for a physical exam, but assumes no physical exam has been done by the child’s pediatrician (and the doctor should never hold the cup, or the penis, or observe the child urinating). Very importantly, a great deal of warm-up and relationship building must be done by the psychiatrist who performs those physicals—which are seldom done at the first visit. Nearly never is there an acute need for a physical, and a practitioner would usually refer the child back to his or her pediatrician is there was need for a physical exam. A non-strangulated hernia is not a reason for a physical exam by a psychiatrist! In the rare case of a physical exam given in a psychiatric outpatient setting, the child must be fully engaged by the psychiatrist and the psychiatrist must fully meet the child’s need for modesty and comfort.

There is never a reason for a child to be fully naked and exposed, or have his pants down around his ankles. Consent for a genital exam must be very specific—the psychiatrist must specifically say “genital exam,” a very different exam than a “physical exam” which traditionally includes height, weight, vital signs, and auscultation of the lungs, heart and abdomen, and perhaps palpation and percussion of the upper body.

Chances are the child’s pediatrician has all of that information anyway, though it is at times necessary for the psychiatrist to take vital signs, usually heart rate, blood pressure and the child’s weight when monitoring a child taking certain medications, especially those for ADD and ADHD.

Late in Dr. Ponton’s testimony, she clarified and reinforced the psychiatrist’s role in caring for a pediatric patient—is the psychiatrist a consultant, which is usually the case—or is he or she the primary care physician (rarely, if there is no family pediatrician)? And if there is a pediatrician, check with that physician first to repeat anything—don’t overlap and do the same thing twice to a child regarding a physical exam.

I saw one female juror have an ah-ha moment after that remark was made. I’ve seen that look—I’ve done it plenty of times. Of course I also saw jurors yawning, examining their fingernails, staring off into space. There is a male juror who always listens and takes notes. A female juror asked for a new notebook.

None of the common-sense things were revealed in the existing medical records of the six former patients of Dr. Ayres who have testified thus far. Dr. Ponton admitted she was unable to read 100 percent of Dr. Ayres’ handwriting in the available medical records, but she was unable to find any reasons given for the need for a physical, and parents, even those who did consent to a physical exam, were not informed a genital exam had been done.

Dr. Ponton stated that children, especially males, do not tend to make false allegations of sexual abuse. In this case, of course, there are memory and cognition concerns, with the abuse having been 20 or 30 years previously. When Weinberg tried to get into a discussion about memory, he asked Dr. Ponton if she was an expert in the area of memory and she said no. He then made a statement about Dr. Elizabeth Loftus being the leading expert in memory—and Dr. Ponton said Loftus was not the leading expert on memory! Let the dueling experts begin!

Weinberg did make attempts to get under Dr. Ponton’s skin, but she is a child psychiatrist for a good reason—she is a level-headed cool customer! She did an excellent job of making her points, even though one of her answers was later called non-responsive and struck from the record. But it’s very hard to take remarks back once they’ve been made. Nor did she ever raise her voice, and she chose to not address Weinberg as "Doron" even after he said it was acceptable, because she'd been referring to McKowan by her first name (she stopped doing that shortly thereafter).

Once Dr. Ponton’s testimony was over, parts of a deposition transcript taken from Dr. Ayres during the Steven A.’s civil case were read into evidence with McKowan reading the role of questioner, and Deputy District Attorney Chuck Finney reading Ayres’ words.

Dr. Ayres claimed that there were children who asked him to perform physical exams, and that he did not initiate the process! He also claimed he asked children if the child would “like for him” to look at something—to examine his stomach if he had a stomach ache, to look at his groin if he had poison oak or another rash.

But he always recommended the child see the pediatrician for the exam, and did it only if it was an emergency (a hernia is not an emergency!) or the child consented. The penis would be more closely examined if the kid offered complaints of itching, or was worried something was wrong with his reproductive organs, and of course sometimes boys masturbate so much they cause sores.

(Male readers: Please leave a comment if you have ever masturbated yourself to having sores. I refuse to believe adolescent boys are that crazy!)

Dr. Ayres also claimed that he did not think he’d ever asked a child to pull his pants down, and that most parents were grateful the exam had been done!

I believe that defense attorney Weinberg is doing a fine job with the material he’s been given. One of the parents of an out-of-statute victim remarked to me that she felt Weinberg “enjoyed” defending child molesters. I would not go so far as to say he “enjoys” it—but it is his job to ensure the accused person’s rights are upheld, and Weinberg is no doubt a challenging adversary for any district attorney. All he can do in a case like this is make sure his client’s rights aren’t stepped on, and to try to plant seeds of doubt in at least one juror’s mind. The average juror does not have the knowledge base I have in this case—I wonder if there are any health care practitioners or social workers on the jury? I'm betting no. A defense attorney would not want me on a jury like this, so I have to assume anyone who night understand child abuse (even just a little bit like me!) was not chosen. However, no doubt some of the jurors are parents, and there is no way they can totally put their feelings aside in this case—what if that had been my child? What would I want the jury to do to help make things right?

Even though she was full of fire and very passionate and effective on Friday, I hope that Melissa McKowan will be studying the transcripts of Alan Jackson’s cross-examination of Dr. Loftus during the Spector trial when the time comes.

Questions I hope McKowan answers somehow and is able to introduce into evidence:

1. Is there a reason that no juvenile referral patients have testified? Are those medical records sealed or destroyed or unavailable? How many San Mateo county juveniles passed through Ayres’ doors? Were there kids from other counties?

2. I would like for her to get on the “no gloves” thing a bit more. Dr. Ponton mentioned that gloves are worn in the rare case of a genital exam to make the child feel more at ease, but I think that if the jury could be skeeved out about the lack of universal precautions—something every medical practitioner knew about from the late 1980s—they might better understand the inappropriateness of the exams themselves. The lack of gloves is a huge hint that the exams were for the benefit of the doctor.

On Monday’s schedule are the four corroborating out-of-statute witnesses. The prosecution might rest next week.

California Codes: PENAL CODE SECTION 11164-11174.3

Expert: No reason for exams performed by psychiatrist accused of child molestation

The Trial: Week Four, Day Four

A CONVERSATION WITH/Lynn Ponton; An Expert's Eye on Teenage Sex, Risk and Abuse

Friday, June 26, 2009

Brooke Bennett – What of Jacques and Gagnon?

~Brooke Bennett

One of T&T’s readers left a comment on the story, Remembering Brooke Bennett.

cherylt asked, “Is there even a trial date set for that POS? Since stepdad pled guilty do we know how much time he was given?

The questions prompted me to think about
how much time I've invested following this case and the tons of print information I have read following Brooke’s death.

I offer this recap from previous entries and articles I have archived – many of which are no longer available online.

Michael Jacques
No, there is no trial date set and I don’t believe we will see one soon for several reasons.

When it was determined that this would be charged as a federal case rather than a state case, several things came into play:

August 2008 –
U.S. District Judge William Sessions granted Desautels request and allowed famed husband and wife legal team, David Ruhnke and Jean deSales Barrett of Montvale, N.J. to assist with the defense. They have successfully defended many high profile clients facing a possible death penalty.

October 2008 -
Prosecutors placed the death penalty as an option on the table, but it is United States Attorney General Michael Mukasey who makes the final decision on whether or not Jacques faces the death penalty.

It becomes apparent that with the Presidential election looming, Michael Mukasey will not issue the final decision on the death penalty. The President elect will be appointing a new Attorney General.

November 2008 -
Jacques' attorneys filed a motion requesting the court push back the date in the death-penalty authorization process to April 2009.

February 2009 –
Eric H. Holder Jr. is sworn in as Attorney General. Holder is personally opposed to the death sentence.

Brooke’s case
languishes on Holder’s desk awaiting a decision.

Jacques is obviously not salvageable as a member of society. His repeated acts of rape and violence have more than proven what a sick, sadistic predator he is.

Regardless of death penalty application approval or not, Brooke deserves justice!

Raymond Gagnon
April 2009 –
Pleaded guilty to transportation of child pornography in US District Court in San Antonio. He faces 5 to 20 years when he is sentenced on July 10.

He is however, still facing additional charges of possession of child pornography in Cullman, Alabama, where he lived before moving to Texas. The San Antonio plea agreement does not affect those pending charges.

So, justice for Brooke remains in limbo for the time being and that’s why we all need to keep her memory alive.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Journalists and the Courts: Can’t We Just All Get Along?

Prosecutor Melissa McKowan (SF Chronicle photo). She has a much nicer haircut and dye job now.

I took a day off from the Dr. William Ayres trial in Redwood City because my poor crippled body simply refused to take itself to the light rail and Caltrain this morning. Living in a body that’s had three back surgeries and nine knee surgeries means that some days it’s those body parts that tell me what to do rather than my brain telling them what to do.

If you are looking for an update on today’s trial, please check out the William Hamilton Ayres Watchdog site. There are multiple correspondents in attendance who will do a fine job of giving the reader an insider’s view of today’s proceedings. Also check out the links at the end of this article.

I want to write about the media sideshow that you may not know much about.

On the afternoon of June 4, freelance reporter Victoria Balfour was asked to leave the courtroom. Balfour had been in the courtroom during pretrial motions and jury selection, and that afternoon San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan pointed Balfour out to defense attorney Doron Weinberg. Before flying out to California from New York, Balfour had previously double-checked with Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, making certain she was permitted to attend the trial and that she was not going to be a witness. She had received no subpoenas. Wagstaffe assured her she was in the clear.

Balfour was instrumental in keeping the investigation going, locating former patients of Ayres and prodding the San Mateo police and then the DA’s office to bring the case to trial. She was supposed to be providing coverage for a San Diego newspaper.

Instead, Balfour’s found herself looking for an attorney who would take her case on pro bono (being a freelancer, she does not have a nice legal department to call upon), and she’s sitting outside in the hallway, eager for tidbits of information.

Balfour is not the only media source to undergo a bit of grief. Local ABC affiliate KGO (Channel 7, ABC) sent one of its most seasoned reporters, Vic Lee (who has 40 years of experience in television journalism!), and a camera person to cover opening arguments. Lee was in the courtroom; his cameraperson was not. KGO had faxed a request to the San Mateo County Courthouse asking for permission to film opening arguments.

Just prior to opening arguments starting, Superior Court Judge Beth Freeman listened to an emergency motion filed by Balfour regarding her exclusion from the courtroom. Just prior to the meeting, defense attorney Doron Weinberg presented her pro bono attorney with a subpoena.

Deputy DA McKowan did not verbalize any objections to Balfour being in the courtroom, but one wonders why she pointed Balfour out to Weinberg in the first place.

Weinberg has never had a conversation with Balfour. He has no idea of what she may know or does not know or how that information could benefit his client in the first place.

Observers aren’t quite sure what sort of information Balfour may have that will help either the prosecution or the defense. She knows only what she has been told about the case. She did not know any of the men prior to this case; she, like the men, does not possess any firm physical evidence that they were molested (scars, diary entries, etc.). How can anything she may be queried about be anything but hearsay?

Thus far the San Mateo County District Attorney James P. Fox has not released a statement on this matter at all.

Immediately after Superior Court Judge Beth Freeman ruled that Balfour could listen to opening arguments only, Vic Lee raised his hand to be heard. He asked the judge about his cameraperson being allowed to take video of the opening arguments only. Judge Freeman could not recall such a request being made to the courthouse in timely manner and denied his request. Less than an hour later, the faxed request, which was indeed sent in a timely manner, was located, but the judge still did not allow KGO to take video in the courtroom itself.

Instead, the television station ended up with lots of photos of people standing around in the hallway. Heck, I even made it on television, standing around waiting!

San Mateo County Superior Court is where the Scott Peterson trial took place, so there is a bit of history of exclusion of television coverage. Judge Freeman stated that this case (Ayres) is no more important than any other, so no preferential treatment will be given by allowing cameras into the courtroom.

I believe KGO planned to follow through with additional legal action but I’m not positive. Vic Lee stayed all day on Tuesday, listening to opening arguments and the testimony of the first witness.

Balfour sat through the reasonably brief opening arguments, and as soon as the first witness was called, both Weinberg and McKowan watched as Balfour got up and walked out of the courtroom to wait in the hallway.

Excluding journalists from covering a trial is bad enough—and I believe the examples in this case can be very chilling to First Amendment rights.

Here is the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Here is my fear: at what point does a journalist become a potential witness? Let’s say a journalist learns of a crime by listening to a police scanner. He or she shows up to the scene, after the crime or incident, and starts reporting (broadcast or print).

Is he or she now a witness? To what? And if this journalist shows up sometime later to cover a resulting court case, are they a potential witness? What does that person have to say—how can that person have any knowledge of the actual crime or event? Has that reporter now become part of that event, someone who possesses evidence?

I even tried to play the devil’s advocate and try to see things from McKowan or Weinberg’s point of view. Does Balfour know so much about the case that McKowan feels uncomfortable with someone else in the courtroom? Is Weinberg angry about having to defend Dr. Ayres? But Ayres is a paying client, why would Weinberg be so angry to the point to bar a journalist who helped to make the investigation happen? If anything, he should be thanking her for making it necessary for the good doctor to have to pay for his highly skilled services! (Mind you, I have the utmost respect for both attorneys. I can’t do what they do, but sometimes I don’t understand why they do some of the things they do!)

Still playing the devil’s advocate, when dealing with a trial such as this one, where the witnesses are highly traumatized and testifying with their identities limited to only their first names and surname initials (unless someone slips up!), is it the right thing to plaster their faces onto television screens? Is it right that a print journalist describes what the person looks like, writes about his background to the point that people in his community could guess it was him. Is there too much transparency?

In this case, I believe the public’s right to know is vital. I also believe that journalists should understand the sensitive nature of what they are writing about. The San Mateo County Times reporter is an excellent example of a tempered journalist. Elizabeth Pfeffer strikes a balance between informing the public of the goings-on and maintaining the anonymity and dignity of those who testify. Her coverage is worth reading.

Despite my lack of a paycheck or proper job in journalism (though I have received a journalism-based undergrad degree), I am trying to be as professional as I can in my coverage. Yes, T & T tends to be a pro-prosecution blog, but we certainly can and will criticize a DA or defense attorney for missteps. I have promised I will not write derogatory things about the good doctor’s family members in attendance. They are not on trial. I have promised I will minimize sensationalizing any of the testimony unless I have to. Suffice it to say, if you want to think the worst about this trial, I encourage you to do so, because it’s probably the truth.

This is what I really want to come out of this trial—I want parents to grow some cajones and be very suspicious and protective of their children. I want the to question everything their family doctor or school educators say about their kids—why does my son need to see a full-blown psychiatrist for a suspected learning disability? What kind of therapy will a psychiatrist do for my bed-wetting child? My child with self-esteem problems? My child with possible ADD or ADHD?

Trust no one where your children are concerned. Being too trusting of certain people can result in your ADD son or daughter becoming victimized by someone that you may be paying to help ensure your child’s future success.

Instead, what you end up purchasing is a child abuse victim. If you think dealing with ADD is hard, try dealing with a forever scarred child!

T & T will be back in the courtroom tomorrow.

More accusers describe physical exams performed by Ayres

DA builds molestation case against doctor

Remembering Brooke Bennett

~Brooke Bennett

One year ago today, the pretty, Vermont 12-year-old disappeared. We would come to find out she was drugged, raped, and strangled allegedly by her uncle.

Brooke was last seen alive on a surveillance video from a Cumberland Farms store in the company of her uncle, Michael Jacques.

As investigators desperately searched for Brooke, a bizarre and horrific story began to emerge and would forever change the small town of Randolph.

The players in the real life drama are tightly intertwined family members:

Cassandra Gagnon – Brooke’s mother, whose ex-husband is Richard Gagnon. Cassandra has recently changed her name to Adams, her maiden name.

Denise Jacques – Cassandra’s sister and wife of Michael Jacques. Denise has changed her name back to Woodward.

Richard Gagnon and Michael Jacques – Brooke’s ex-stepfather and uncle, respectively. Prosecutors claim there is a “nexus between investigations into the alleged obstruction of justice by Gagnon and the alleged kidnapping by Jacques.”

The State of Vermont turns the cases over to Federal prosecutors.

Gagnon is arrested on a charge of aggravated sexual assault on a minor and obstruction of justice for apparently assisting Jacques in fabricating information regarding the abduction of Brooke. Additionally he has been charged with the production and distribution of child pornography. He pleaded guilty to pornography charges in federal court in San Antonio on April 13, 2009.

February 26, 2009, the Vermont Legislature passed one of the toughest sex-offender bills in the country by a 29-0 vote in the Senate and 132-2 in the House.

In 1985, Jacques was charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor after allegedly engaging in more than 100 sex acts with an underage family relative whom he eventually impregnated. The case was dismissed.

In 1992, he was charged and convicted of abducting and raping an 18-year-old West Rutland woman. Police reports indicated he tied a rope around her neck, threatened to kill her and forced her to perform sex acts on him for several hours.

Jacques is currently being held at a federal penitentiary in Ayer, MA.

While Brooke’s family and the Randolph area are growing impatient with the slow pace of Jacques’ prosecution, prosecutors are awaiting a decision from Attorney General Eric Holder on whether they can seek the death penalty for Jacques.

Please take a moment to think of Brooke today – she deserves to be remembered.

Burlington Free Press

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Strike one! Ball! Strike two! Ball! Strike three—nope, base hit for McKowan!

California Department of Corrections Fire camp trustee

I confess to being concerned about the way things were going in the child molestation trial of Dr. William Ayres.

Not because I don’t believe the young men—I absolutely do. But that's my mom and registered nurse brain talking—not my knowledge of the law. And my knowledge of the law consists of three one-semester classes about law in certain lines of work: law as it applies to nursing, media law, and sports law, including labor law and torts and liability. No criminal law. So I’m no expert.

But it seemed to me that defense attorney Doron Weinberg was doing a better job of lighting and putting out small fires during his cross-examination and re-cross of the witnesses this far in the court proceedings, which consist of three former patients and their parents.

There are some common themes possessed by each young man who alleges molestation by the now-elderly doctor. Each young man was referred, or perceives he was referred, to Dr. Ayres for evaluation or treatment of ADD or ADHD as the first and foremost reason an appointment was made. Some of the parents of the out-of-statute boys also reveal their sons were referred for evaluation of learning difficulties in school, but one boy’s parents readily state their boy went because of self-esteem issues.

Imagine that—you send your son to a psychiatrist and what you get out of it is a lifelong victim of molestation and all that goes with that!

Each young man did not immediately perceive the “medical exam” as a bad touch. Each young man comes from a middle or upper-middle class home with well-informed parent who believed they were doing the right thing based on their own professional knowledge or because an educator or pediatrician believed the referral would benefit the boy. None of the parents were informed of the need for an intimate exam of their son’s genitals (though one was told the doctor would be performing a physical as part of his uptake evaluation). None of the parents were informed of the “results” of the physical exam.

Thus far none of the young men (remember, ages 8 to 13 or 14 at the time of the molestation) were referred because of any sexual dysfunction or malformation of his genitals.

San Mateo County prosecutor Melissa McKowan certainly has not made any glaring missteps, but while I was listening to her questioning and the resulting testimony, I found things I was wondering about—questions about the testimony, things I felt might be relevant—things a juror might wonder about.

I had a couple of questions that kept nagging at me: what exactly is “gay sex” at the age of 9? What happens specifically? In this case, much fuss was made about the timing of what was ultimately described as gay sex between one of the alleged victims and his then-best friend. Weinberg (rightly so) tried to put a confusing spin on the timing of this gay sex, as Ayres’ former patient had stated in a deposition that he had this “gay sex” during the third grade school year and into that summer. The boy stated that his experience with Ayres changed the way he had gay sex.

Having a younger brother of my own, I wondered what would he have been doing if he’d had “gay sex” when he was 9 years of age. Where would he have done it? Who would he have done it with?

“Please, Ms. McKowan,” I thought to myself. “Can you please get this defined? If we are talking about how a foreskin was retracted and how testes were fondled, we need to be open enough to define gay sex in a 9-year-old.”

Today the young man defined what gay sex was—playing doctor with your best friend. And he had two “partners”—boys he stated were his “best friends” at the time. He testified that he modified the way they played doctor based on the way Dr. Ayres had examined him.

The young man admitted he felt he had a sexual identity problem as a consequence of the alleged molestation and the gay sex. Today with additional therapy he knows he’s always been heterosexual and has a beautiful supportive girlfriend.

The prosecutor correctly asked each young man if the doctor wore gloves during the exam. An excellent question—but does the jury get the significance of this?

Do you understand the significance of this medical practice?

In the mid to late 1980s, HIV and AIDS became a huge concern to health care professionals. Previously to understanding HIV, the only time a doctor or nurse would wear gloves was when caring for an open, possibly infected wound or for performing gynecological or rectal exams. When I was in nursing school in the early 1980s, we were instructed to NOT wear gloves when helping a patient wipe him or herself after using the bathroom—wearing gloves would alienate the person and make them feel “dirty.”

After universal precautions were embraced as good medical practice, doctors and nurses wore gloves during most physical exams, especially those near mucous membranes, open wounds or other contact and the genital area.

The young men who have so far testified that they do not believe Ayres wore gloves. And these three young men, all within statute, were examined after universal precautions were adopted.

I sincerely hope that an expert witness will be explaining that soon, before the jury forgets about the gloves.

One former patient testified to urinating in a cup as part of his evaluation for chronic bedwetting. He claims Ayres not only held the cup but also held his penis. The medical record reveals that the doctor did record a volume of urine, but the young man recalls the doctor just dumping the urine into a sink. It was explained by the doctor that he needed to see if the boy had a single stream of urine, or a double or triple stream.

This is an accepted standard of care for the evaluation of enuresis. However, it’s entirely probable the boy already had that exam done by his own pediatrician. What can a psychiatrist do treatment-wise if he discovers the kid has a double stream—a possible surgical condition?

A psychiatrist can do nothing. This exam should have been done by a urologist. The specialty of urology was not mentioned at all. Again, perhaps because that testimony does not yet fit, but I hope there is an expert prepared to testify about a standard of care in urology and the treatment of enuresis.

Why do the boys’ stories seem to evolve over time? I believe that there is a logical explanation for this—think about it, if a person previously unknown to you out of the blue asked you about a sensitive issue, would you be prepared to be 100 percent open and forthright? I believe that as the men better trusted the investigator, they were more able to go through the event in their mind and better explain those memories they’ve put on the back burner.

The gaps in the parents’ memories are also easily explained. Do you remember every single doctor’s office visit you’ve had, especially if you believe you are there for a routine, no big deal thing. These parents utterly trusted the integrity of Dr. Ayres and had no reason to be on guard or expect anything out of the ordinary.

Again, this is my health care background talking. What this means legally I have yet to see. Will an expert witness tell the jury why the memories and timelines are faulty? One observer in the courtroom “deduced” one former patient was lying because there were so many gaps. I reminded her that at the time he didn’t really believe what was happening was bad or abnormal. Why remember every little detail?

I’d also had concerns about the way the courtroom itself was being run. In Santa Clara County, the jurors were not waiting to go into court in the hallway along with the general public or the potential witnesses, and the gallery remained seated until the jury left the courtroom. This courthouse is a bit old so it appears there are no jury lounges available. Because the jurors were freely mingling with the public on Tuesday morning, they knows Ayres uses a walker. Will this evoke sympathy? Today things tightened up a bit and the bailiff asked the galley remain seated until the jury left. (There are two women who take forever to leave—I know both have physical infirmities—but I hope the bailiff encourages them to move along a bit faster, to not linger in the courtroom rummaging in their purses!)

Another thing I’ve observed is McKowan and Weinberg do have apparent whispered off-the-record conversations. Weinberg is a wily old guy—could he ask for a mistrial because of the way the jury is “maintained” or because of those off-the-record conversations?

One of today’s witnesses was most compelling to me. Stephen S. is a 31-year old former patient of Ayres. His involvement in the trial came about in a most interesting manner: he was in the courthouse at the same time as Ayres was in custody after his arrest, waiting in an anteroom that holds inmates who will be testifying in court. Stephen freely admits he was sentenced to six years in prison for carjacking and strong armed robbery. There are a couple of interesting things about Stephen that had me thinking about some issues.

Stephen said he was an inmate trustee at a fire camp in Monterey County. This means he is a firefighter, and will respond to brush and forest fires throughout California. To be selected for a fire camp is a true honor for an inmate: they live in a minimum to unsecured camp, they learn a valuable trade (firefighting) and assignment to the camp is a reward for good behavior. There are inmates who work for years to gain this honor.

I was concerned that the jury would not understand the significance of this, especially as questioning went on.

Before the significance of fire camp was explained to the jury, on cross-examination Weinberg introduced some reports into evidence. The reports were in regards to incidents with other boys while at the group home in 1994.

As part of direct examination, McKowan revealed that Stephen ended up in a group home when he misbehaved enough to find himself involved in the juvenile system. While at this group home, Stephen told a counselor he’d been molested by Ayres (but got the doctor’s first name wrong, calling him “Richard”) A report was filled out, but there was no follow-up.

But there were two other reports on hand—reports about incidents of a sexual nature between Stephen and other boys. The reports were child abuse reports, and the incidents involved oral copulation.

Stephen does not recall any incidents of that nature. When shown copies of the reports, he still does not recall the incidents. Nor does he know who the person was who prepared the report. His counselor’s name is not on the report. His parents were never informed about the supposed incidents.

I wondered why McKowan let Weinberg introduce these reports—why didn’t she make a preemptive strike? But I think I understand why after her re-direct examination of Stephen.

Weinberg tried to get Stephen to admit he’d lied, either about the incidents happening or about filing the report. Stephen stuck to his guns, it didn’t happen nor was he aware of any reports, because there had been no incidents. McKowan simply reinforced Stephen’s position during re-direct. As she questioned Stephen, I came to an understanding of what I think happened.

To me, this appears to be reports filed in error with mistaken identity. So I wondered—what kind of people staff a group home? What is the education level of the employees supervising the trustees? How many people supervise the trustees? And is there a history of erroneous reports being filed at this home or by the person who prepared the report?

I’m fairly sure the answers to those questions could not have come through Stephen. Will they come through someone else?

During re-re-direct, through Stephen’s testimony, prosecutor McKowan informed the jury why the fire camp was so important. I believe the jury was able to understand that in Stephen there was a good hard-working person who wanted a good future and was already working hard to obtain it.

Stephen entered the California Correctional system in April 2007. He has been at the honor camp for 19 months.

Do the math. Stephen programmed quickly and earned the honor of learning firefighting and now has a vocation he can look forward to when he’s released from prison on April 2011.

At the lunch break, I was concerned Weinberg had done a better job questioning the witnesses and defending his client. But after the questioning of Stephen, and being able to address so many of my concerns, I believe ADA Melissa McKowan had a solid base hit today.

May she continue to anticipate the smallest of potential concerns and remember that there are not only parents on the jury who do understand some adolescent behaviors, but no doubt some people on the jury may not understand what goes through the adolescent mind.

The boys are not lying. Each has finally fully understood the enormity of what happened to them. The gaps in their memories are fully legitimate—and are the same gaps each of us may have when remembering happier times, like Christmas when we were five.

Today’s photo is of California Department of Corrections trustee firefighters, in honor of Stephen.

Week four, Day Two Testimony

Former patients take stand in Ayres trial

Nicholas Sheley Case and Associates Updates

Guest Entry by katfish!

After taking a month or so break from blogging, I'm still catching up on some of the cases I have been following. In this entry I will update you on some of what's been going on in the Nicholas Sheley case, Nick's wife Holly Sheley, his brother Joshua Sheley and Joshua's girlfriend Jenna Henson, as well as his cousin Eric Smith cases.

Katfishponders has been reporting the case of Nicholas Sheley. He is a 29 year old Sterling, IL man accused of a two-state killing spree late June, 2008 that left eight dead. There isn’t enough room to go into all the specifics of this case so let me refer you to previous entries and sources for this case, just click here.

I’ll give a short time line of the killing spree. It’s alleged that Sheley killed Russell Reed, 93, at his home in rural Sterling, IL sometime on June 23 or 24 and 4 days later went to Galesburg where he killed Ronald Randall,65, of Galesburg, IL at a car wash on June 28 and stole his truck.

Sheley then returned to Whiteside County that night where it is alleged he killed four people in a Rock Falls, IL apartment. Sheley allegedly attacked and beat to death two men, (Kenneth Ulve Jr., 25 and Brock Branson, 29), a woman (Kilynna Blake, 20) and Blake's two year old son (Dayan Blake) in the apartment shared by the four.

Next it’s alleged that Sheley drove Randall's truck to Festus, MO, near St. Louis, where Tom and Jill Estes , both 54, of Sherwood AR and visiting the St. Louis area, were brutally beaten in their hotel parking lot late Sunday, June 29. Randall’s truck was found abandoned in St. Louis on June 30. Sheley was later apprehended in Granite City, IL on the evening of July 1.

The first case that Sheley will stand trial is for the death of Ronald Randall 65, Galesburg, IL. If convicted he will face the Death Penalty. He is currently being held on a $10 million bond for the Capital charges and $500,000 bond related to jailhouse assault charges incurred while being held at the Knox County Jail awaiting trial.

On May 29, 2009 during a case management hearing at the Knox County Courthouse, Sheley’s defense team presented six motions citing factors relative to the constitutionality of the Illinois death penalty. Some of the motions dealt with specific language in the state statute that the defense deemed too vague. Two of the motions dealt with the possibility that a future court may overturn the death penalty in Illinois. Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart denied all the motions stating there is no state authority to declare the death penalty unconstitutional.

I will try to do a full in the courtroom report on this hearing later after getting the motions presented in the hearing….I have a ton of notes.

At his June 2 arraignment for charges stemming from an April 17 altercation with Knox County Jailers, Nicholas Sheley pleaded not guilty and requested a jury trial. Judge Stephen Mathers will preside over this matter. A July sixth pre-trial hearing is scheduled with a possible criminal trial date of July 27. If convicted Sheley could be sentenced up to 14 years on the assault charges.

Continue reading at katfish ponders...

Meting Out Justice In Jersey

It has been an interesting few weeks in the island of Jersey - specifically relating to Claude Donnelly and Michael Aubin.

It has been several long, investigative years into the widespread child abuse scandal in Jersey with Haut de la Garenne children’s home being the most recognized name at the center of the scandal.

Many – in and outside the island - are of the opinion given the judicial system in Jersey and the rumors and allegations swirling of many prominent figures about having been involved with or plainly covering-up the abuse for decades, justice for the alleged victims may never be achieved.

Last week, 69-year-old Claude Donnelly was found guilty of 15 counts of indecent assault, rape, and procuring an act of gross indecency. All of the charges relate to a woman who told the court Donnelly began abusing her when she was eight.

Donnelly admitted to indecently assaulting the woman twice when she was 13 or 14, but denies raping her on four occasions, indecently assaulting her nine times and causing her to commit an act of gross indecency on him.

As we so often hear from the defense the victim gets portrayed as the guilty party. Advocate Baker told the jury they would hear evidence from a woman who would describe events that had happened to her as a child. ‘It is that immature child and her thoughts and behavior you will need to consider,’ he said.

At an earlier trial Donnelly was found guilty of rape and indecent assault of another, then teenage girl. When interviewed by police he said he knew one day they would question him over it.

Donnelly’s crimes are not connected to the Haut de la Garenne investigation, but the larger child abuse investigation in Jersey.

Donnelly will be formally sentenced on August 21.

Two days ago 46-year-old Michael Aubin, who has been in custody since May of 2008 for abusing 2 young boys at Haut de la Garenne in the late1970s, was spared additional jail time and placed on two years probation.

Aubin himself claims to have been sexually abused at the children’s home by a staff member known as the “bogeyman.”

In issuing the sentence of probation, Commissioner Clyde-Smith said there was an element of "cruelty" in the circumstances of the case.

"The defendant was taken in to care at three years old. The state was in loco parentis," he said.

"He became what he became while in the care of the state and now the state comes after him to prosecute him for what he did when he was in its care when he was 14 - a disturbed and brutalised 14-year-old."

Which leads me to ask who is the “bogeyman”, why are we not hearing anything regarding an investigation into his identity and does this not call into question the police and government calling the Haut de la Garenne investigation an expensive investigation that proved nothing? Ya can’t have it both ways!

Since the abuse scandal investigation began - 40 suspects have been named by police - of that number, one suspect’s file was returned to police for further investigation, a few were dropped for what the Attorney General calls a lack of evidence and the rest are apparently in political/judicial limbo.

Call me cynical, but my gut feeling is the powers that be in Jersey have offered up Donnelly and Aubin as the sacrificial scapegoats in hopes this all just goes away – the Jersey way.

The perpetrators of abuse and those responsible for the cover-up that held and/or continue to hold high positions within the government and society may sleep easy for a time, but there are more than a few determined individuals that will not let this sleeping dog lie.

JEP - Knew Police Would Question Me
The Independent