Prosecution Continues To Lay Out Case in Guzman Child Molestation Trial

By Lauren King and Jackie Snyder

After the lunch break on February 3, 2015, the alleged victim returned to the witness stand for further questioning. Deputy District Attorney Michelle Serafin proceeded with her redirected examination of the witness. DDA Serafin began by asking questions about the child molestation allegations brought forth by the defendant’s ex-girlfriend.

The alleged victim testified that her mother told her that the defendant’s ex-girlfriend accused him of sexually touching her daughter. The alleged victim did not recall if the defendant had denied these allegations during their email conversations. She did, however, recall that she believed that the allegations might be true. It is unclear whether she believed it because her mother told her or because she believed that the defendant was capable of the alleged act.

The same ex-girlfriend also had a son fathered by the defendant, Manuel Guzman. The alleged victim knew both the defendant’s ex-girlfriend and her son. She did not know the ex-girlfriend’s daughter. The son visited the alleged victim’s home every other weekend to see the defendant. The alleged victim was not aware of any existing child custody case between the defendant and his ex-girlfriend. She testified that no one had told her why the allegations were made by the defendant’s ex-girlfriend.

DDA Serafin then brought the focus of her questioning back onto the alleged victim and the alleged sexual incidents. Ms. Serafin asked the alleged victim why she had previously testified that she felt pressured by her mother. The alleged victim responded that her mother pressured her to speak about what had happened between her and the defendant.

After the alleged victim’s mother and her children moved to Bakersfield, the mother began to ask the alleged victim questions about her relationship with the defendant. The alleged victim stated that her mother probed, “If something happened, please tell me.”

The alleged victim told her mother that nothing had happened between her and the defendant. She did not tell her mother the truth because she was afraid that her mother would be angry with her. Also, as she told Officer McIrvin, she did not want to “get anyone in trouble.”  “Anyone” was said to refer to the defendant.

The alleged victim testified that she thought that her cousins were likely the first to be told about any of the incidents between her and the defendant. Immediately prior to this admission, the alleged victim overheard her mother and aunt discussing their suspicion that the defendant did something to her. She did not tell her mother about the incidents until a later date.

The alleged victim stated before the court that her mother had never told her to say that the defendant did something to her so that the mother could gain custody of their shared child. The alleged victim did not say anything untrue for this purpose. In fact, the mother is said to have traveled to Winters every other weekend so that the defendant could see his child.

The alleged victim verified that she told the court about all of the sexual incidents that had occurred between herself and the defendant. She testified that the defendant made her touch his genitals on almost a daily basis. This particular act began after the third week that she lived in Winters with the defendant (out of five weeks in total).

The first time that the defendant touched the alleged victim’s genitals she was lying on the floor, on her stomach, watching television. The defendant was lying on his stomach as well when he put his hand under her ribs, from one of her sides, to reach her genitals. The alleged victim stated that she did not move her body or hips in any way to allow him access to her genitals.

During these incidents, the alleged victim’s mother was usually asleep or in the shower, and her brothers were either asleep or playing video games in their bedroom. Her mother typically went to bed around the same time each night and showered at nighttime.

DDA Serafin then asked the alleged victim to answer a few more questions about the alleged sexual intercourse that took place on September 27, 2013. She testified that the defendant’s arm was underneath her neck on the couch. The defendant was lying on his side and moved partially on top of her. He never put his full body weight on top of her.

The alleged victim told her mother about the mouth kissing, but she did not tell her mother that he kissed her breasts. She also refrained from telling law enforcement the latter detail.

On the night of September 27, 2013, the alleged victim changed her underwear and sweat pants before going to bed. She only changed her bottoms, but said that she did not know why she made that decision and she also did not know if these articles of clothing were brought with her when she moved to Bakersfield.

Defense Attorney David Dratman then began a re-cross examination of the alleged victim. The alleged victim reiterated that she only had sexual intercourse with the defendant once and that she also told her cousins that it only happened one time. She admitted to lying to her mother and Officer McIrvin and that it was easy for her to lie to the officer when she was first asked if anything had happened between herself and the defendant.

According to the alleged victim, it was the defendant who told her mother about his ex-girlfriend’s molestation accusation. Her mother informed her of this when she still lived in Vacaville. The alleged victim said that she was told that the defendant tried to touch his ex-girlfriend’s daughter, but the daughter did not allow him to. The alleged victim was in the sixth grade when she heard about the allegations and her mother told her once to be careful and not to allow the defendant to touch her.

Throughout the alleged victim’s testimony the defendant kept his eyes closely on her. The defendant also always had a hand pressed to his face. Quite often, he touched his lips or covered his mouth with one of his hands.

Testimony Continues

Brian Young, a detective for the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office, was the next witness called to testify. When DDA Serafin asked what types of crimes Detective Young typically investigates, he stated general crimes, such as homicides and sexual assault. When asked the number of child sexual assault cases he has been assigned to investigate over the span of his career as an investigator, Detective Young said the number was not less than ten.

Detective Young testified that on November 25, 2013, the alleged victim’s mother, along with the alleged victim and the alleged victim’s cousin, arrived at the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office at approximately 11 AM, to inquire about an ongoing case. Due to the fact that the alleged victim’s mother only spoke Spanish, the alleged victim’s cousin served as a translator. Detective Young was provided with a copy of a Bakersfield Police Report prepared by Officer Timothy McIrvin of the Bakersfield Police Department.

Detective Young briefly scanned the report and asked the alleged victim if she would speak to him. A Multi-Disciplinary Interview Center (MDIC) interview was then conducted by a specially trained interviewer. Detective Young explained it was county protocol to use this system when the child in question is under the age of 18.

Detective Young observed the interview and determined it would be beneficial to perform a pretext phone call, an investigative tool commonly used in sexual assault cases. A pretext phone call is essentially a recorded (supervised) conversation between an alleged victim and the person being investigated. While the alleged victim was hesitant to make the call, she ultimately agreed.

DDA Serafin made the decision to play the pretext phone call in court. During the pretext phone call the defendant was convinced the alleged victim was trying to set the defendant up. The alleged victim’s mother had previously filed a restraining order and a condition of the restraining order was no communication between the alleged victim and the defendant. The defendant was confused as to why the alleged victim would try and contact him as she knew the conditions set forth in the restraining order.

While the pretext call established a seemingly close relationship between the alleged victim and defendant, there were no statements made by defendant that offered concrete proof that his relationship with the alleged victim was sexually inappropriate. The call might be considered to some as ambiguous at best.

During cross-examination, Defense Attorney Steven Sabbadini inquired as to why a more thorough investigation into the alleged victim’s case did not take place. Why was the scene of the crime not tested for biologicals such as DNA? Why was there no physical examination of the alleged victim?

Detective Young testified that careful consideration had been taken. He concluded all necessary and beneficial steps had been executed in the investigative process. Detective Young was then excused as a witness.

Court was set to reconvene the following day, February 4, 2015, 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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5 Comments

    1. Davis Progressive

      usually a plea bargain is offered.  usually if one is not taken there are two possible issues – the offer was sufficiently high so as the risk of exposure in trial was not significantly greater.  so by way of example if you are facing 20 years, you are offered sixteen years, is there really a reason to take the offer?  but if you are offered three and face 20, you probably take it – unless…

      second point is the facts of the case.  there are cases when the facts are against you.  this case, you have compelling testimony even if there is not a lot of physical evidence.  however, there are cases where you really believe your client is innocent or did significantly less and in those cases, you might be more willing to risk even a steep exposure.

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