Molestation Trial Continues

By Mahanaz Ebadi, Jackie Snyder, and Makisha Singh

The trial of Manuel Guzman resumed with the questioning of the alleged victim’s cousins on February 2, 2015. The prosecuting attorney brought her first witness of the day to the stand, a 15-year-old cousin. The cousin informed the court of her close relationship with the alleged victim. The cousin and the alleged victim would constantly converse over the phone, and see one another as often as possible.

The cousin went into detailed in regard to the events that happened during their Thanksgiving break from school. The cousin was at her aunt’s house in Bakersfield when she overheard her aunts conversing about the alleged victim and how they noticed a change in her attitude and habits.

Her mother asked the cousin and her elder sister, who was the second witness called to the stand, to talk to the alleged victim and see if they could find out the source of the problem.

The cousin further stated that she and her older sister took the alleged victim to her aunt’s van, where they sat until the alleged victim was able to open up about some of the events. The cousin said that they waited for a while, and after getting no response from the alleged victim, they shared a secret of their own so she would feel safe and comfortable enough to talk to them. The older sister than came up with the option of holding the alleged victim’s hand and allowing her to squeeze her hand when the answer to a question was yes, and not to squeeze it when it was a no.

The older sister asked the alleged victim three questions, the first being, “Did you have sexual intercourse with Manuel?” And both the cousin and her older sister stated that the alleged victim squeezed both of their hands. Her older sister asked a second question, “Was it more than once?” The alleged victim once again squeezed both their hands.

The older sister asked one last question before putting the topic to rest: “Did Manuel force you into having sexual intercourse?” She waited but the alleged victim did not squeeze either one of their hands. After they headed into the house the older sister informed her mother and aunt of the information.

Guzman Trial after First Morning Recess

Court reconvened after a short recess. The alleged victim was then called to the stand to resume her testimony. Defense attorney David Dratman had previously made the decision to temporarily suspend his cross-examination of the alleged victim, to allow for the testimony of several witnesses who had traveled from out of town.

Mr. Dratman asked the alleged victim several questions regarding the time frame in which she (along with her family and the defendant) lived in Vacaville, California. The alleged victim testified that no inappropriate touching or sexual intercourse took place between her and the defendant during this time. The alleged victim did, however, exchange friendly emails in the form of e-cards with the defendant during this time. Only once they moved to Winters, California, did the inappropriate behavior begin to take place.

It seemed unclear from the alleged victim’s testimony whether she understands what exactly sexual intercourse involves. The alleged victim previously testified she had taken sex education classes at her elementary school in Vacaville, but when asked what “sexual intercourse” meant, she stated she was not sure if the sex education courses had covered that topic. She did, however, state that she had come to understand the term sexual intercourse due to a conversation she overheard her mother and aunt having, shortly after her family had moved to Bakersfield. This particular conversation was regarding the defendant and herself and would ultimately lead to the alleged victim claiming she had engaged in sexual intercourse with the defendant.

The witness, the alleged victim, testified that a short time after the conversation took place, two of the alleged victim’s older cousins asked to speak with her. The three girls met at the family’s parked van outside the Bakersfield residence. The alleged victim’s cousin asked her a series of questions regarding the defendant while all three girls held hands. The cousin asked the alleged victim to squeeze her hand once if the answer to a particular question asked was yes.

When the alleged victim was asked if she had engaged in sexual intercourse with the defendant, she replied yes by squeezing both of her cousins’ hands. When asked if the sexual intercourse happened more than one time, the alleged victim said she held her hands still, signifying it had not. The alleged victim’s hands remained still once again when asked if the defendant had forced her to engage in the sexual act.

The alleged victim testified she and her cousins never again discussed the sexual intercourse that took place between herself and the defendant.  Court was then dismissed for lunch and the trial was to resume at 1:30 PM.

Trial Resumes in the Afternoon

On the afternoon of February 2, Mr. Dratman continued his cross-examination of the witness who was allegedly molested on multiple occasions by her mother’s boyfriend, Manuel Guzman of Winters. Dratman began by continuing the questioning of the alleged victim about the time when she told her two female cousins that she had had sexual intercourse with Guzman. Mr. Dratman then went on to ask her questions about her relationship with Guzman in a chronological order, beginning with the first incidents of inappropriate conduct.

The witness, the alleged victim, agreed without hesitating that she did feel like she was the center of attention when her cousins convinced her to open up about what happened with Guzman. She also agreed to feeling pressure about telling tell her cousins that something did happen between her and Guzman.

Concerning her mother, she agreed to worrying about her mom not getting custody of her little brother and to also worrying about her mom having to pay lawyer’s fees. These last two statements are important to the defense attorney because documents show that the witness’ mother did not file a restraining order on Guzman until after receiving a notice in the mail regarding Guzman’s intent to get custody of their mutual child, the witness’ little brother.

The defense attorney believes the restraining order to be a strategic move for the mother to gain custody of her son. It is also important to note that the alleged victim’s mother, during her own questioning, claimed not to have mentioned anything about lawyers to her daughter, which is inconsistent with the girl’s statement.

According to the alleged victim, the inappropriate touching by Guzman began around the first or second week of her 7th grade school year in Winters. She testified that the touching happened about every day, and around the second week of school Guzman touched her vagina for the first time.

When asked to describe the incident in more detail, she asked if she could write it down on a piece of paper but the judge did not allow it. Her description followed that the two were lying down on their stomachs side by side, one to two feet apart, on the living room floor watching TV.

It was at this time that Guzman moved his right hand down and inside the front of her pants. When asked what he did once his hand was in her pants, the witness asked again if she could write it down. At this point the judge allowed it. Although her written statement was not read aloud verbatim, it was stated by the defense attorney that Guzman inserted a finger into her vagina.

When asked by the defense attorney if Guzman putting his hand down her pants surprised her, the alleged victim responded, “A little bit.” When asked why only a little bit, she said she didn’t know. She also said she did not cry afterward when she went back to her room. However, she did admit to understanding that it was improper for someone to touch her vagina.

The witness stated she didn’t see any blood when using the bathroom afterward, and that there was a little wetness in her vagina when he touched her. She then said that the same scene occurred again for the next two nights. It was on the fourth night, she believes, that Guzman touched her breast from underneath her bra.

After the afternoon recess, Dratman continued his questioning of the witness. She said Guzman made her hand touch his penis while they were sitting on the couch in the living room sometime during her third or fourth week of school. She said she kept her hand flat and quickly removed it because it felt weird. When asked what she felt, she said, “Hair.” The witness testified that the same incident occurred the next night, however, she cupped his penis that time.

The alleged victim also claimed that Guzman squeezed her butt as she was walking from her room to the kitchen, although she doesn’t remember when. Around Wednesday of that fourth week, Guzman touched her breast again and that Friday night, while they were watching TV on the couch together, he put his hands in her pants again.

Judge Rosenberg called the afternoon session to an end after the witness agreed that she was mad at her mom for moving her family out of Guzman’s Winters home, that her mom and Guzman were fighting the week before they left, that Guzman drank in front of her, and that he had been drinking the day before and he eventually went out to his car. The trial is set to resume on the morning of February 3 at 9 AM.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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