By Elaine Gabriel
Manuel Guzman’s trial in Department 4 resumed before Judge David Rosenberg. The alleged victim’s mother was called to the witness stand, as the defense attorney questioned her regarding the alleged victim and the defendant. The defense attorney asked the mother if she had told Guzman to stop hugging her daughter, and that she did not want to put anyone in jail because of such behavior.
The mother admitted that the alleged victim would get aggressive if her mother told her to do something, and after that she would speak to Guzman and he would defend the girl. The mother also agreed that she would get upset when she walked in on Guzman and her daughter speaking in English, and that they would stop once she walked in and laugh. On September 27, the mother stated that she stayed up all night before she drove to Bakersfield, first making sure everyone was asleep.
The defense attorney asked the mother, when she woke up the next day, if she noticed anything unusual about her daughter. The mother stated that her daughter moves very quickly and does not tell her mother when things hurt her. The mother also stated that Guzman filed for full custody of their mutual son. This is when the mother started to see a domestic violence counselor for help, and soon accessed her daughter’s computer. On the computer were emails between the daughter and Guzman after they moved. Since the mother does not understand English, she had her counselor translate the emails in her daughter’s computer for her.
Subsequently, the domestic violence counselor called the police. The mother told the police that after her daughter went through puberty, Guzman and the daughter began spending a lot of time together, holding hands, wrapping arms around each other, as if they were dating. The mother also admitted to telling the police officer that Guzman’s ex-girlfriend filed child molestation charges against him a couple years before she, the alleged victim’s mother, met him.
Judge Reed allowed a fifteen minute recess and court was back in session. The defense attorney asked the alleged victim’s mother if, on a Monday, she had discovered an email in her daughter’s computer over the weekend. The mother said she did not remember. The defense attorney stated that the mother told the counselor that she found an email stating that Guzman told the alleged victim that she had left her underwear at his house.
The alleged victim, in the email exchange, asked Guzman what he did with her underwear. Guzman said that they were in his bed so he could remember her. The defense attorney stated that the last line was not in the emails that he had looked through.
The mother said that she did not remember. The defense attorney stated that this was the only email over which she had become emotional in her testimony. Then the defense attorney asked the mother whether the counselor, the one who translated the emails for her, was the same counselor who advised the mother to not take the alleged victim to the hospital. The mother responded, “Yes.”
Shortly thereafter, DDA Serafin asked during cross-examination if the last time the emails were interpreted for the mother was in October of 2013. The mother responded, “Yes.” Ms. Serafin also asked the mother if Mr. Guzman said that he was going to burn up the mother and his ex-girlfriend, the mother of his other child, with acid but make them suffer with their children first. Ms. Serafin also asked if Guzman said this more than once.
The mother agreed. This statement was put into the restraining order that the mother ordered on Mr. Guzman. Ms. Serafin also asked the mother if she regrets not leaving Guzman before September 27, 2013. The mother responded, translated into English, “Totally.” Ms. Serafin continued, “Why didn’t you leave earlier?” The mother stated that she did not want to take her son away from his father because the child was very small at the time.
The defense attorney then asked the mother, “How many times have you prepared with Serafin before you testified?” The mother stated that she went over her statement once and did not remember the date. Soon after, the mother was excused from the witness stand.
The alleged victim was called next onto the witness stand. The alleged victim stated that her birthday was November 13, 2001, and that her brothers were ten and three years old. The victim identified Guzman and stated that he is her little brother’s father.
She stated that she was mad that her father left and that Guzman took his place when she was ten years old. She stated that Guzman helps her a little bit with homework. Ms. Serafin asked if there was some time that he paid her more attention. The alleged victim responded, “Yes, he would pay more attention to me than [to] my brothers.”
The alleged victim stated that such attention occurred one night after her little brother was born, when she was ten years old. Ms. Serafin asked her what happened the night of the incident. The alleged victim stated that on that day her mother and Guzman were arguing, he was drunk, having a pack of beer, and his sister came over to their house. Ms. Serafin asked what the alleged victim was doing in her room while this was happening and whether she could hear what they were arguing about.
The alleged victim stated that she could not hear what they were saying and that she was doing her homework in her room. The alleged victim stated that in the middle of the night she went to use the bathroom and Guzman came inside the house through the back door and saw her.
She stated that he walked over to her and hugged her. Ms. Serafin asked how she felt and the alleged victim stated she felt “weird.” Guzman asked the alleged victim to wait for him in the living room, while he used the bathroom. Ms. Serafin asked the alleged victim if she liked him at that point. The alleged victim said she did not like him.
When Guzman came out of the bathroom, he told the alleged victim to lie down on the couch. The alleged victim stated that the defendant was lying behind her on the couch and then he started to touch her. The alleged victim stated that he put his hand underneath her underwear and put his fingers in her vagina.
Ms. Serafin asked the alleged victim if he had done this before and the victim said, “Yes.” The alleged victim also stated that she felt “weird.” The alleged victim stated that Guzman also started to touch her breasts underneath her bra.
Ms. Serafin asked the alleged victim if Guzman was touching her vagina with one hand and her breasts with the other. The victim agreed. The alleged victim stated that he grabbed her arm and guided it to his penis where she held it.
Ms. Serafin asked the alleged victim how his penis felt. The alleged victim stated, “Weird.” Ms. Serafin asked if she had done this before and the victim said that she had. Ms. Serafin asked the alleged victim if the defendant’s penis was “hard.” The alleged victim said yes.
Ms. Serafin asked the alleged victim what happened next. There was a long pause. The alleged victim stated that Guzman laid her on her back, pulled up her shirt and her bra, and started to suck on her breasts. Ms. Serafin asked the alleged victim if Guzman was still touching her vagina at the same time.
The alleged victim said, “Yes.” Then the alleged victim described Guzman’s pants as “stretchy.” Judge Rosenberg cut in and said it was time to take a lunch break and that court would be back in session at 1:30 PM.
Prosecution’s Direct Examination of Alleged Victim in Molestation Case Continues
By Jackie Snyder and Lauren King
Deputy District Attorney Michelle Serafin continued her direct examination of the 13-year-old alleged victim in People v. Manuel Guzman on January 29, 2015.
DDA Serafin asked several questions regarding the alleged sexual intercourse and inappropriate touching that took place between the defendant and the alleged victim. The alleged victim was visibly uncomfortable and would often pause, for minutes at a time, before answering the DDA’s questions. Most of the alleged victim’s testimony consisted of statements such as, “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.”
Ms. Serafin would often rephrase questions to help the alleged victim comprehend exactly what was being asked, but when the alleged victim continued to answer that she did not understand the question, it was apparent that Ms. Serafin was becoming frustrated.
The alleged victim’s testimony would often contradict what Ms. Serafin had stated in her opening argument. For instance, when asked if the alleged victim had ever told anyone (including her mother) that sexual intercourse had taken place between herself and the defendant, she stated that she had not.
She did, however, admit that the defendant and she had engaged in sexual behavior that consisted of the defendant’s genitals coming into contact with her genitals. This took place in the early morning of September 26, 2013, hours before the alleged victim’s mother made the decision to move herself and all three of her children to Bakersfield. The alleged victim also testified that the defendant touched her breasts and other parts of her body inappropriately on a fairly regular basis.
When asked exactly what took place between the alleged victim and the defendant in the early hours of September 26, 2013, she replied she did not know how to describe what took place. When pressed further by Ms. Serafin, the alleged victim fell silent. DDA Serafin then asked if the alleged victim would feel more comfortable writing it down.
When the alleged victim responded affirmatively, she was given a piece of paper and a pen and asked by Judge Rosenberg to write down what she remembered. After writing down her recollection of the events on September 26, 2013, the alleged victim was asked to read her written statement aloud.
Later, when asked how she felt about the defendant and about the events that took place September 26, 2013, the alleged victim stated she felt sorry for him but also felt partially responsible, due to the fact that she had never asked the defendant to stop his inappropriate behavior toward her.
The court reconvened after a short recess. Ms. Serafin continued her direct examination of the alleged victim, presenting several threads of emails to the court. From October 1 to October 19 of 2013, the alleged victim and the defendant exchanged close to 900 emails. The correspondence occurred on a daily basis during this time, after the alleged victim and her family had moved to Bakersfield.
The alleged victim initiated contact with the defendant from her mother’s email account. She did not have her own account due to the fact that she was younger than the specified age requirement. The alleged victim stated that she did not know why she began emailing the defendant.
According to the alleged victim, the defendant was unaware that the alleged victim was planning on emailing him from her mother’s account and he expressed concern about whether or not it was truly the alleged victim sending the emails. Later, the defendant urged the alleged victim to create her own email account to prevent her mother from discovering their conversations.
Ms. Serafin presented a number of pictures that the alleged victim and the defendant sent to one another via email. The alleged victim testified that she did not recall who initiated the exchange of the pictures. The alleged victim did not recall when she sent the first picture to the defendant, and was also unsure why she did send it. Ms. Serafin presented several pictures of the alleged victim, some of which showed her puckering her lips and lifting her shirt to expose her stomach.
The alleged victim requested that the defendant send her pictures of himself, as well. The defendant complied with her request without question. Ms. Serafin presented several of the pictures that the defendant sent to the alleged victim.
The prosecution also referred to several written portions of the emails that contained affectionate or suggestive content. In one such email, the alleged victim wrote to the defendant detailing a dream that she had about him in which they were doing “you know what” and were almost caught. However, upon questioning, the alleged victim stated that she did not remember the email or what she meant by “you know what.” She also told the court that she did not remember having dreams about the defendant.
Eventually, the alleged victim got her own email account after faking her age on the electronic forms. She was worried that her mother would see the emails and become angry, because her mother did not want the children to talk to the defendant.
The exchange of pictures and suggestive emails continued. The alleged victim referred to the defendant as “daddy” and “super daddy” in several of the emails and testified that she never called him these names in person. She told the defendant that “she liked it when he called her names,” which prompted him to call her “honey bunny,” “sexy,” and “babe.” The defendant did not ask the alleged victim to stop sending the pictures or suggestive emails.
On one occasion, the defendant emailed the alleged victim and told her that he had her “holey underwear” (the same underwear she was wearing on the night before she left for Bakersfield). The alleged victim responded by asking the defendant why, and where he had them. The defendant answered that he was in his bed thinking about her and when later asked what he did with the the underwear, he told her that it was a secret.
The trial was set to resume at 9:15 AM on January 30.