Excerpts from Angela’s Story: “The Truth” 2017-07-21T05:47:17+00:00

 

The Truth

“Can you tell me,” asked Legare, “what the name of your school is?”

“Sharon Center School.”

“Okay. And do you know where you live?”

Angela nodded Yes.

“Where do you live?”

“Sharon Valley.”

“And that’s in what town?”

“Sharon.”

“In Sharon? Okay.”

Angela added, “We also live in a state.”

 

Legare misunderstood. “You don’t live in a state?”

“We do.

“In what state?”

 

Now it was Angela’s turn to be confused. “I think it’s probably Sharon,” she said.

“Eh — that’s the town,” Legare corrected. “In Connecticut?” she suggested.

Angela nodded again.

“Yeah,” said Legare. “Okay.”

 

Feeding answers to the subject was a definite no-no in a forensic context, precisely the sort of thing that could get the whole interview tossed out of court. But Angela’s interview was still in the pre-substantive phase — no defendant was going to face a wrongful conviction simply because Legare put Connecticut in Angela’s mouth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“So, I’m gonna ask you some questions today. But we have some rules about asking questions and stuff.”

The interview was now moving from rapport-building to instructions and tests. Legare would explain the ground rules and expectations. Angela would be reminded to tell the truth, to ask for clarification when necessary, and to correct any mistakes that Legare might make. A series of short quizzes would be used to gauge Angela’s intelligence and language skills, and she would be prompted to describe at least one innocuous recent event in her life, in order to evaluate her capacity for episodic retrieval. Although such tests are still considered pre-substantive, assessing a child’s competency helps to establish their credibility later in court — a teddybear alone will only carry so much weight.

“Do you know what rules are?” asked Legare.

“Yeah.”

“What are rules?”

Angela pursed her lips as she thought of the answer. She swung her legs back and forth, gently, between the couch and the coffee table.“Rules are, like, something that you have to do.”

“Mmm hmm. What’s one of the rules in your school?”

“No running with scissors.”

“Mmm. That’s a good rule, I think,” said Legare. “What do you think?”

Angela nodded.

“We don’t have rules like that,” Legare explained, “but we have rules, like, While you’re here, you tell the truth.

“Mmm,” said Angela.

“Do you know what the truth is?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legare grabbed some sheets of paper with various pictures and arranged them on the coffee table. “Let me ask you a question. Okay?” She pointed to an image on one of the pages. “See this picture? What’s this?”

“A boy,” said Angela.

Legare pointed to another picture. “And what’s this?”

“A girl.”

“And what’s this?”

“A cat.”

“Okay. So, if I said, ‘This boy said this is a dog,’ would that be the truth or a lie?”

“A lie.”

“How come?”

“Because it’s a cat.”

“Right. And if I said, ‘This girl said it’s a cat,’ would that be the truth or a lie?”

“The truth.”

“How come?”

“Because it is a cat.”

“That’s right!”

Legare removed the test-picture from the table, then turned back to Angela — making eye contact. “Do you think that will be an easy rule to follow?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The truth is, things were getting complicated. For example, if CAIT’s Special Room was defined as a place where children are safe to tell the truth without worrying that terrible things will happen — this, of course, would be a lie. Terrible things are precisely what will happen.

At the time, roughly one in four criminal cases before the Litchfield Superior Court involved allegations of sexual assault of children or teens. Nearly all of those cases, in varying degrees during their investigation and prosecution, involved the services of CAIT.

The truth is, the fate of her entire family was in Angela’s hands. Depending on what she said in the Special Room, her mom and dad could go to jail, and Angela and her brothers could end up in foster care. Angela and Jesse might not even end up in the same foster family as each other, which meant they could be forced to live alone among strangers until adulthood — and when you’re starting at seven or eight years old, adulthood is pretty much forever away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“One of the other rules we have is No guessing,” said Legare. “Do you know what guessing is?”

“It’s when you…. Like, if somebody asks you a question, you don’t really, like, just guess.” Angela leaned back in her seat. “You have to do it,” she added.

Her answer hadn’t come out very well, but the nice lady didn’t seem to care.

“Right. So, if I said to you, What color is my car? What would you say to me — if there’s no guessing?”

Angela’s fingers returned to the dark-skinned doll sitting behind her head. “Mmm,” she said, gently stroking the doll’s pajamas. “That’s a hard question.”

“Well, try to remember there’s no guessing. So, what would you tell me, what color my car is?”

“‘I don’t know?’” said Angela.

“Right! Because you didn’t see me come in my car.” Legare spoke quickly now, excitedly: “If I asked you, What color are my pants? you could answer that because you can see my pants. But you didn’t see my car. So, if you don’t know the answer to a question, you can say to me, I don’t know.”

 

Angela rested her head against the back of the loveseat.

Just listening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The truth is, no one else in Angela’s family was telling the truth. About a week before her CAIT forensic interview, when Detective Dave and his partner visited Angela’s house, both her parents and her big brother lied about what Carson did, where he did it, how often he did it, and how long he’d been doing it.

Lying was, in fact, the only way to save the whole family from terrible things.

Julie told the detectives that Carson had merely touched Angela “inappropriately,” and neglected to mention that it was Carson’s penis, rather than his fingers, which had been doing the “touching.”

Julie added that Carson was pleased when the molestations came to light. He wanted to thank Angela for telling on him.

For his part, Carson told detectives that he had molested his little sister only a handful of times over the course of a month — rather than “lots of times,” as Angela made clear. He noted that he had stopped of his own accord, after realizing the error of his ways.

With Jeff and Julie sitting beside him as detectives took notes, Carson also made a point of lying that the molestations occurred only in Angela’s bedroom, rather than in their parents’ bedroom while using their porn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The truth is, there is nothing easy about investigating sex crimes, and child sex crimes are the worst. Rarely do they involve what one might call standard police work. Unlike any other branch of law enforcement — homicide, drugs, robbery, et al — detectives working sex crimes often find themselves in the odd position of having to establish that a crime has even occurred. Evidence is rare except in cases of rape and other violent assaults, and investigators often have nothing more than the dueling statements of the alleged victim and perpetrator. In cases that involve very young children, investigators may not be lucky enough even to get a victim statement, only the vague suspicions of a third party. The same can be said for incest cases. Emotional and practical pressures, to stay silent about familial abuse, are omnipresent, and they may ultimately prove overwhelming to the child victim.

 

At the time of the interviews in the kitchen of _X_ home, Detective Dave Montini and his partner, Detective Paolo D’Alessandro, were still nine days away from hearing Angela’s story, in her own words, at her CAIT forensic interview. The detectives were a full two weeks away from hearing the _X_ family history from private therapist Patrice Hayhurst. Nor could the detectives know that Julie, just minutes after they left her house that day, would call “Dr. Bob” again, this time looking for sedatives for Angela — specifically so that she might be sedated for her upcoming interview at CAIT.

Short of employing a psychic, the detectives had no way of knowing what was really happening in the _X_ home. In place of a psychic, they had social workers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the US, each state designates specific agencies to receive reports of child abuse and neglect. In most states, social workers in some version of Child Protective Services will have the primary responsibility for receiving and assessing these reports. In Connecticut, these child protection services are handled by social workers for the Department of Children and Families (DCF), although certain forms of child maltreatment — such as sexual abuse, severe physical abuse, or production of pornography — must reported to law enforcement as well. When possible, specialized detectives are assigned to cases of child sexual assault. If a police department lacks trained detectives, then investigations fall to whomever is next in line to catch a case. In either scenario, detectives work jointly with, or under the direction of, any number of social workers. It can be an “uneasy alliance.” Social workers find themselves charged with the unenviable and often mutually exclusive tasks of protecting child victims as well as preserving the larger family unit, while their partners in law enforcement are often concerned with no more than the arrest, prosecution, and hoped-for incarceration of suspects, if not personally solving a suspect’s “issues” with “blue-steel therapy.”

Regardless of the interview hours they had logged in other criminal cases, detectives Montini and D’Alessandro would not be the only ones to interview the _X_ family. For Angela’s and Jesse’s CAIT interviews on November 5, the detectives would defer to social worker Kathi Legare. For Carson’s interview, as well as those of his parents, conducted in the cramped confines of the _X_ family dining room on Monday morning, October 27, the detectives coordinated their efforts with DCF Supervising Social Worker Renee Tousey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
DIVISION OF STATE POLICE

 

Narrative Report

 

On 10/27/03 at approximately 1030 hours Det. Paolo D’Alessandro and I conducted an interview with Julie _X_, her husband Jeffrey _X_, and their son Carson _X_, at their home. A written statement was obtained from each of them.

DCF Supervising Social Worker Renee Tousey was present during each interview.

I obtained authorizations for release of information, which were signed by Julie _X_, in order to obtain medical/psychological doctors’ records.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
DIVISION OF STATE POLICE

 

Witness Statement

 

I, Julie _X_, make the following statement without fear, threat, or promise. I have been advised that any statement(s) made herein which I do not believe to be true, and which statement is intended to mislead a public servant in the performance of his/her official function, is a crime under C.G.S. section 53a-157.

 

Angela was showing signs of depression and anxiety. She has been in therapy on and off for the past two years with a licensed social worker, Patrice Hayhurst.

In September of 2003, Angela started seeing a nurse practitioner, Robert Woodward. Mr. Woodward had given us a self-evaluation questionnaire for Angela to complete. On October 18, 2003, I was helping Angela fill out the questionnaire. Angela revealed to me that Carson had touched her inappropriately.

I put Angela to bed for the night so my husband and I could speak to Carson about what Angela had said. Jeff and I spoke with Carson that evening at our kitchen table.

Carson admitted to touching Angela inappropriately without specifics. He said, “I’m glad Angela told you.” He wanted to go upstairs and thank her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
DIVISION OF STATE POLICE

 

Witness Statement

 

I, Carson _X_, make the following statement without fear, threat, or promise. I have been advised that any statement(s) made herein which I do not believe to be true, and which statement is intended to mislead a public servant in the performance of his/her official function, is a crime under C.G.S. section 53a-157.

 

Angela and I started touching each other’s privates.

We did it about 5 times for about a month.

We did it on Wednesday nights when I was taking care of my brother and sister.

We did it in Angela’s room every time.

We just pulled down our pants and underwear, down to our ankles. I didn’t put anything inside her.

We were feeling each other out with our fingers and hands. I had licked Angela’s vagina and Angela had licked my penis.

I didn’t stick my penis into Angela.

I didn’t stick anything into Angela.

It was in the past, we only did it for about one month. We talked about it and felt that it was wrong so we stopped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before the detectives were even involved, social workers from DCF noted in an October 23rd report that Julie was “minimizing the sexual abuse of her daughter.” According to Julie, the molestations happened only “once — but maybe more than once.” Although Angela would later tell authorities the molestations happened “lots of times,” and would go into great detail as to the sex acts involved in those molestations, in Julie’s October 23rd conversation with DCF, she claimed that both Angela and Carson were “unclear” about the “incident.”

 

The truth is, Julie had some experience with social services.

She had briefly volunteered at a crisis center.

She would later take to telling people — including State authorities — that she had a “professional background” as a sexual abuse counselor.

It was a fabrication, of course. She’d merely attended an orientation for volunteers. She had no professional background in anything, let alone in counseling.

 

What Julie had, however, was a history of successfully manipulating social services. A few years earlier, displeased with her friend Megan Barney, Julie had decided to file an anonymous, false report of child abuse against her. The whole process had been easy and effective, and the gratification was nearly instant. Unemployed and living across the street, Julie had been able to watch, literally from the comfort of her own home, as social workers took away two of Megan’s children.

 

 

 

READ CHAPTER 6:
BEST FRIENDS, PART II