In June, a jury convicted Dev of 76 felony counts including 23 counts of forcible rape; 23 counts of forcible sexual assault; 27 counts of lewd acts with a minor; and 3 counts of attempting to dissuade a witness. The jury hung on three of the counts and returned not guilty verdicts on 13 others.
Last week, Vanguard Radio concluded it’s second interview on the Dev Trial.
Click here to listen to the audio of the interviews:
In what follows are just a few of the issues that have been raised that remained troubling, this is by no means intended as an exhaustive account of all the issues involved in this case.
The first issue is the utter lack of physical evidence that was presented in the courtroom. There was no DNA, no medical reports, that indicated that this individual had been assaulted by Mr. Dev.
We know a little bit of what the jury used to make their decision since several of them have chosen to post on blogs, including this one. A key piece of evidence appears to be a pretext call. The pretext call was placed by the victim to Mr. Dev at the behest of Davis Police Detect Mark Hermann.
According to those familiar with the case however, the pretext call was rather complex, a 50 minute winding conversation that alternated between English and Napalese and hinged in part on translation into English. The Vanguard has been unsuccessful at obtaining a transcript of this conversation. Family members claim that during the course of conversation Mr. Dev repeatedly denied any such sexual assault.
However, one segment proved decisive as a blog entry from a juror attests.
Juror Blog: “Yes, her testimony was difficult to swallow. If for her testimony alone, he would be a free man. The phone call is what put him where he is now. I am confident that we made the correct decision.”
Juror Blog: In the pretext call, Ajay admitted to having sex with the victim after she was 18. The exact quote is “You f$#*ed me after age 18, that means you gave consent”. The entire defense was that no sexual relationship occurred and that it was a story made up by the victim. With his admission, that defense was completely disregarded.
The family strongly disputes this interpretation, suggesting that it was a hypothetical statement by Mr. Dev and taken out of context as a sort of confession and admission of guilt.
“The DA’s interpretation of what Ajay was saying to the accuser… was totally and completely false. Any misunderstanding is due to language and cultural issues which are often times lost in the translation process. Ajay was trying to explain to the accuser how our legal system works demonstrating that if a statement like this was made it could possibly ruin both her life and his. He was NOT admitting to rape.”
The jurors who have posted and this board claim that they were allowed to listen to the entire recording and believe that the statement is an admission of guilt.
From my perspective, it is troubling to see the jury confess that the witness was not credible in her testimony and yet rely on what seems at least to this observer to be a rather ambiguous form of evidence to convict and send someone to prison for 378 years.
Some have suggested that there was corroborating evidence such as motel receipts for nearby motels. However, the jury did not convict on the alleged rape at the motel. Family members have argued that the motel receipts are innocuous, and that he stormed off to a motel a couple of times when he was upset or needed time by himself and his family members came to meet him and talk into returning to home. This is difficult to evaluate as corroborative evidence.
Less difficult perhaps were charges of child pornography on Mr. Dev’s computers. The child pornography was a huge piece of evidence originally to establish that the victim was telling the truth as it corroborated her story. But it turns out that the forensic evidence showed that the files were not on his computer at the time of the alleged assaults and may have been placed there by the victim herself. Mr. Dev was exonerated of those charges.
The family also points to the lack of signs of trauma. This is difficult to evaluate because there are so many stories of spouses that have apparently turned a blind eye to abuse under their own noses. However, logic dictates that forcible rape would have left some sort of evidence. Particularly since the victim argued that she was raped 3 three times a week for a period of five years, which amounts to more than 750 rapes.
Yet during this time, doctors apparently evaluated her and testified that they saw no signs of abuse. On Wednesday one of the guests on the show said that some of the rapes allegedly occurred in the wife’s bed with her in the bed while she slept. She testified to this with very specific information–such as the wife was just six inches away sleeping. There are many explanations that perhaps could be used to explain away some of this, but it seems unlikely that one could commit hundreds of acts of rape without visible signs of abuse.
Family and friend also attest that the family appeared to be loving and close-knit with the adoptive daughter being overtly affectionate. Again, psychologically those messages may be mixed, but taken together, there is enough to at least begin to question what exactly occurred.
So how much corroborative evidence was there in this case? Enough apparently that the jury was willing to convict. Family members however, argue that considerable evidence was not allowed into the courtroom that would have exonerated Mr. Dev.
Still, I remain perplexed by one thing–if the victim is making this up, what is the motivation. When I met with the Dev family in July shortly after the verdict, they presented a case of escalating family strife, where the adoptive daughter was increasingly heading off in a path they did not approve of in terms of not attending college and certain boyfriends.
There was also apparently immigration problems. She had returned to Nepal and it was discovered that there were forgeries on her passport that led to her being arrested and convicted of the forgery. According to the family, she was only allowed to come back as the result of a deal reached with the police detective in exchange for her testimony. However, the judge would not allow the trial transcript into the case, presumably because of the lack of ability to authenticate.
This is from the families website:
“The judge denied the admission of the documents on the basis that the words “correct copy” were not used in the attestation, but the words “true translation” were used instead. It was explained to the judge that the documents translated into English by the government of Nepal were original documents not copies, hence the attestation did not need to say “correct copy.” The attestation verified that the translation was a true copy of the “certified copy” from the court written in Nepali, the official language of Nepal . All official documents from Nepal are written in Nepali. All official government court documents translated into English are done by the Ministry of Justice. The certified copy written in Nepali was also provided to the judge, along with the original English translation certified from the court level, to the Ministry of Justice, the Foreign Ministry and finally the Nepal Embassy in Washington DC . This was all explained to the judge along with a declaration from a Nepali certified law attorney and a declaration from the Nepal Embassy. Still the judge denied the admission of the evidence.”
The family argues that goes to the heart of her motivation and also shows a lack of credibility of her testimony since she is shown to have been dishonest.
Still, as I said on the radio show last week, it would seem to be that a reasonable person who had testified in an effort to remain in the country would feel some sort of remorse at the thought that their actions had led to a sentence of 378. Perhaps that might occur in the future. But that remains a reason for a bit of skepticism.
There is little doubt that this case is extremely complex and that this has only scratched the surface of it. I would be very interested in talking with some of the jurors either on or off the record if they are interested. To me there are just a number of troubling aspects of this case, enough to keep the issue alive.
—David M. Greenwald reporting