UC Davis Sexual Assault Trial Resumes

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photo by Lauren King, Court Watch Intern
photo by Lauren King, Court Watch Intern

By Jackie Snyder and Lauren King

May 14, 2015, marked the third day of the Lang Her trial.  The victim in this case, who is referred to as only YX, took the witness stand.  She was accompanied by a victim advocate, who sat by her side while she told her story regarding the alleged sexual assault that took place in the early morning of July 10, 2012.

YX, a UCD student majoring in Asian Studies, explained that she met the defendant through an association she was once active in, the UCD Hmong Student Union.  YX stated that members of the Hmong association would often join together and throw parties, which was exactly what took place on July 9, 2012.

YX stated that on the night of July 9, 2012, her sister dropped her off at the defendant’s apartment where a party was being held.  YX was familiar with the apartment and its occupants, as she had spent time there prior.  Once at the party she met up with her friend and they began, along with several others, participating in several drinking games.

YX estimated that she consumed five to ten shots of hard alcohol,  and indulged in a few mixed drinks.  She became severely intoxicated and passed out on a couch located in the residence.  YX then testified that her friend, as well as the defendant, transferred her to an upstairs bedroom belonging to the defendant and his roommate.

YX was then placed on the defendant’s roommates’ bed.  The friend of YX stayed with her until the party came to an end.  When the friend asked her if she wanted to leave, YX told her she wanted to stay and sleep.  YX testified that she had slept at the apartment at least once before and she felt comfortable staying the night.

After falling asleep, YX testified she awoke to a sharp pain in her vaginal region.  She then felt the sensation of cloth brushing her forehead (which she later stated she believed was the defendant’s shirt).

YX claimed that she felt frozen and her legs felt heavy.  She remained silent and in shock.  Moments later, she felt her shorts being pulled up.  The defendant than walked to the bedroom door and turned off the light before getting in to his bed.  YX testified she did not recognize the individual who sexually assaulted her as the defendant until he glanced at his cell phone.

She explained that the light from the phone illuminated his face and she immediately identified him.  When she felt the defendant was asleep she went to the bathroom to call a friend but her  cell phone battery died.  Unsure of how to get home, YX made her way downstairs to the couch.  YX stated she felt cold and, after searching for anything to keep her warm, she came across a pair of pajamas which she put on before lying down.

In the morning, the defendant woke her and asked if she wanted to leave.  YX stated that the defendant then drove her to her apartment to pick up her backpack and then dropped her off at school. YX claimed she never confronted the defendant because she was afraid he may harm her.  Once at school, YX broke down and admitted to her professor that she had been sexually assaulted.  The professor then contacted a counselor.

At the urging of her sister, YX made the decision to report the rape to the police.  In addition she reported the incident to UCD’s Student Judicial Affairs.  Only after she reported the incident was she contacted via text by the defendant, who begged her not to let the incident “define” him.

Court was then dismissed for the afternoon lunch break.  The jury was asked to return at 1:00pm for the continued testimony of YX.

Afternoon Session

The trial of Mr. Lang Her resumed on the afternoon of May 15 at the Yolo County Superior Courthouse. Several rows of the courthouse gallery were filled with Hmong observers. Mr. Her has been charged with the alleged sexual assault of friend and fellow U.C. Davis student, “YX.” Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor called three witnesses to the stand on behalf of the prosecution—YX, Sheri Rickman Patrick, NP, and Sergeant Ariel Pineda.

The alleged victim, YX, was the first to take the stand, resuming her testimony from the morning. A victim advocate sat beside her as she recounted the events of July 9, 2012, in explicit detail. YX testified that she was one hundred percent certain that she did not give Mr. Her consent to insert his genitals into her person. YX had consumed too much alcohol and was passed out in the bed of Mr. Her’s roommate. A sharp pain inside her genital area caused the alleged victim to regain consciousness. She soon realized that a man was on top of her and that he was penetrating her.

Defense counsel, Mr. Christopher J. Carlos, insisted upon another side of the story during cross-examination. He asked, “…and then you kissed Lang, correct? Then, you started fooling around, correct?” This style of questioning continued, despite objections from Ms. Zambor and YX’s denial of the proposed course of events. YX testified that she never kissed or fooled around with Mr. Her and that the intercourse was not consensual.

Mr. Carlos then asked YX about several details that he believed caused her to lack credibility. It later became known that YX had a tampon inside her genital area at the same time of the alleged assault. Mr. Carlos asked the alleged victim why she did not disclose that information to law enforcement during the initial investigation.

YX explained that she did not mention the tampon because she was embarrassed and was unaware that it was an important detail. She also testified that she never told law enforcement that she “went to the bars” on the evening of July 9, but stated that she “went out and had drinks.” She meant that she went to a friend’s house to drink. According to the witness, she had been a heavy drinker until about a month prior to the alleged sexual assault.

The next witness was Ms. Sheri Rickman Patrick. Ms. Patrick is a nurse practitioner and, in 2012, she was a member of the Bridging Evidence Assessment & Resources (BEAR) Center. The nurse practitioner was offered as an expert in forensic sexual assault examinations before the court. In the past twenty years, Ms. Patrick has conducted approximately three hundred sexual assault examinations and around two thousand pelvic examinations in total.

On July 11, 2012, at approximately 9:25pm, Ms. Patrick performed a sexual assault examination on YX at the BEAR clinic. Ms. Patrick collected urine and blood samples, took a patient history, asked routine questions, collected swabs for the assault kit, and performed full body and genital examinations.

YX informed Ms. Patrick that she had suffered a lapse of memory and consciousness during the alleged assault and that she vomited afterward. The alleged victim experienced bleeding from the assault and complained of non-consensual vaginal penetration. YX also answered that she had not had consensual sexual intercourse in the five days prior to the examination.

YX recognized Mr. Lang Her as her assailant. She knew him from the U.C. Davis Hmong Student Union (HSU). YX told Ms. Patrick that she had been drinking with friends and was put to bed after becoming extremely intoxicated. The next thing she knew, Mr. Her was on top of her.

No injury was found to the vaginal area, however, damage was found within the alleged victim’s anus. Through the use of an anoscope, Ms. Patrick discovered petechiae on the interior of the anus. Petechiae are small, red bruises that are typically created through trauma. This finding, according to Ms. Patrick, is consistent with penetrating anal trauma. Despite the fact that YX did not complain of anal penetration, the nurse practitioner asserted that these injuries could not come from anything else. All examinations were photo and peer reviewed by the entire BEAR team.

According to Ms. Patrick, it is not uncommon to see no injury to the vaginal area after a sexual assault and it is completely possible to have intercourse with a tampon inside the area. This is possible due to the elasticity of the vagina.

The final witness of the afternoon was Sergeant Ariel Pineda of the Davis Police Department. In 2012, Mr. Pineda was a detective. The former detective received YX’s case on July 12, 2012, and began a follow-up investigation of the case after reviewing the steps that previous law enforcement officers had performed.

On July 17, 2012, Mr. Pineda met with YX in person and took her statement. A U.C. Davis assault advocate was present with the alleged victim. This statement was recorded. On July 18, 2012, the former detective asked YX to make a pretext phone call. In this call (from her own cellphone), the alleged victim was to initiate conversation with the suspect in regard to what happened the evening of the alleged sexual assault. YX was willing to comply with the request, however, was unable to go through with it due to emotional distress. Mr. Pineda described YX as shaky, crying and in distress.

On July 24, YX’s assault kit was sent out for further testing and on July 26, YX went through with the pretext phone call and it was recorded by Mr. Pineda. The recording was played in open court for the jury and was approximately twenty minutes in length.

During the phone call, YX repeatedly confronted Mr. Her about the evening of the alleged sexual assault and told him, “I know what you did to me. I know what you did when I was passed out.” She continually asked that he tell her the truth and asked him why he did what he did. “I never thought that you would do that to me. You were my friend. Why did you do that to me, Lang?”

Mr. Her never explicitly denied that he assaulted YX. “I don’t know what you want me to say. I was as drunk as you were that night, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t do that…If I did, I wouldn’t know why. Who did you tell that I did this? Are you spreading lies? How do you know it wasn’t a dream?” Throughout the recording, Mr. Her appeared visibly uncomfortable. Several times he drank water in an agitated manner and the remainder of the time his eyes were cast downward.

Court was adjourned for the day and the trial was set to resume at 8:30am on May 15, 2015.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch puts 8 to 12 interns into the Yolo County House to monitor and report on what happens. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org

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25 thoughts on “UC Davis Sexual Assault Trial Resumes”

  1. sisterhood

    “Mr. Carlos asked the alleged victim why she did not disclose that information to law enforcement during the initial investigation.”

    “YX also answered that she had not had consensual sexual intercourse in the five days prior to the examination.”

    ” “She also testified that she never told law enforcement that she “went to the bars”…” ”

    “…you started fooling around, correct?” This style of questioning continued despite objections…” 

    Does anyone wonder why many people choose not to report sexual assault?

  2. Tia Will

    sisterhood

    I agree with you that hostile questioning does prevent many women who are victims of rape from  reporting and testifying about if. But I see the problem as much broader and deeper.

    What makes these cases so very difficult for me is that in my experience there are many women who do not report these cases. There are also women who for reasons known only to themselves, claim coercion when the sex was consensual, but they do not want to admit to it, perhaps even to themselves. What I see is more often in the “grey zone” of a woman who is ambivalent about having sexual relations and essentially uses alcohol as a means of abdicating responsibility for actions in which she may engage willingly, but then use the rational that “it just happened”.  When the students are here in town, this is a very common reason for a woman in the 18-24 range to come in to my clinic to be screened for STDs “just to be safe”. What does not seem to rise to the consciousness of these young women is that binge drinking in and of itself is an inherently dangerous activity whether or not their is subsequent sexual activity involved either consensual or coerced.

    What is most needed in my opinion is an awareness in both our young men and young women of  the need to assume complete responsibility for their own actions. Of course for the men this includes that awareness that lack of objection does not equal consent and that they are completely responsible for their actions regardless of the amount of alcohol consumed. For our young women it also includes the awareness that they are completely responsible for their own actions regardless of amount of alcohol consumed and that testing afterwards is no protection against either pregnancy or sexually transmissible disease.

    Primary prevention against these cases and their inherent problems of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmissible diseases would include open and honest education about sexuality in age appropriate ways starting at least by junior high. Taking away the stigma of sex, the shaming, the embarrassment by acknowledging that sex is a normal part of human behavior if engaged in voluntarily by both parties would go along way towards the primary prevention of these episodes rather than waiting until one has occurred to deal with this common event which has the ability to destroy lives.

    1. sisterhood

      Couldn’t agree more.

      (I also need to add, on a personal note, that police departments need to realize the urgency in processing date rape allegations. In our case, the woman said she felt woozy after consensual sex and wanted to be tested for any date rape drugs. (Fortunately she made the allegation within 24 hours.) The police/D.A.  took six months to process the lab results and share them with our family. Six months of living hell, worrying she may have self induced allergy meds, which are similar to date rape drugs. Results finally came back negative. Nothing at all in her system. Police refused to drop the cannabis charge & instead started scouring computers for child porn. Which was found, seven years prior, mixed in with perfectly legal adult porn, on a Yahoo Adult Only website advertised as Adult Only, Monitored, Legal Website. I compare this with a grown man buying a Playboy or Penthouse, flipping through it, seeing what looks like perhaps an underaged woman, and tossing the trash in his trash. Then the police scour his trash can and arrest him for it. He couldn’t risk a jury trial faced with seven years and accepted their plea instead.)

      Sorry to get off topic here. My point was, when rape or date rape allegations made, process the lab work in a timely manner, please.

      Tia, would you ever consider six months to be a legitimate period of time to wait for lab results?

      1. Tia Will

        Sisterhood

        Tia, would you ever consider six months to be a legitimate period of time to wait for lab results?”

        Sorry for the delayed response. I consider six months to be an egregious amount of time to wait for any result that I can think of.

  3. Alan Miller

    they do not want to admit to it, perhaps even to themselves . . .  a woman who is ambivalent about having sexual relations . . .  essentially uses alcohol as a means of abdicating responsibility for actions in which she may engage willingly . . . What does not seem to rise to the consciousness of these young women is that binge drinking in and of itself is an inherently dangerous activity whether or not their is subsequent sexual activity involved either consensual or coerced.

    Tia I thank you for stating the above.  It needs to be said, and it needs to be said by a woman.

    That is not to excuse what the defendant did if it is how the victim described it.  Taking sexual advantage of a passed-out woman is rape, period — and damn cowardly.

    In addition to awareness of college rape, however, must be a parallel awareness and admission of the dynamic that you describe above.

    The sad truth that the “it’s always the man’s fault” crowd fails to incorporate is that women who drink to excess to lose their inhibitions and to abdicate responsibility for their own sexual behavior — and then claim rape — are brutally harming women who were actually raped by clouding all such incidents with doubt.

    1. Davis Progressive

      there has to be a bright line set somewhere, otherwise when you get into the gray area you end up prosecuting people in murky areas of the law and punishing as though they were bright white.

      1. sisterhood

        The D.A. does not care one bit if the man is innocent. Cash for convictions. I am not referring to this case, I’m referring to my own family’s case. Sex offender convictions and placement on the offender registry will advance your career, plain and simple. They don’t care one bit whose lives they are destroying. They get off on it.

        1. Davis Progressive

          i think there’s a danger injecting your own case into every situation.  you have to remember – there are actually crimes that occur, actual people commit those crimes, sometimes the da and police get the right perpetrator and under those conditions there should be some punishment.

        2. PhilColeman

          Sisterhood’s above remarks are categorically not true. I’m not the least bit interested in her particular case, although, clearly we are going to hear about it whether we want to or not.

          To make a sweeping remark that the DA does not care if an accused man is innocent is little short of outrageous. The immediate retraction of the “cash for convictions” claim begs the question, Then why did you say in the first place?

          There is no professional enhancement for a prosecutor being involved with a convicted defendant on a sexual offender registry. That assertion is more than outrageous, it’s demented. You can’t simply ramp up these preposterous claims on a continual basis without at least a microcosm of independent proof to support it.

          Keep your secret identity, Sisterhood. Hiding your real identity to these ongoing emotional rants is your  one demonstrated example of good judgment.

        3. hpierce

          Phil… perhaps I’m wrong, but I’ve heard the phrase “cash for convictions” used to describe (perhaps inaccurately) one of the criteria used to award grants to the DA’s office (via Yolo county).  Didn’t occur to me that the implication was meant towards individuals.  Yet, seem to remember seeing the phrase used when the DA’s office was awarded Fed/other grants.

        4. Davis Progressive

          cash for convictions refers to the fact that some grants are set up in such a way that they get the grant money and have to show that they have increased prosecutions and convictions in those categories of crime.  that creates perverse incentive structures where in order to justify their grants, they have to get more prosecutions.  since more crime is not actually being committed, they are trying more marginal cases – often overcharged to encourage plea agreements which count as convictions.  hence cash for convictions.

        5. Alan Miller

          Keep your secret identity, Sisterhood. Hiding your real identity to these ongoing emotional rants is your  one demonstrated example of good judgment.

          Unlike the judgement of the Vanguard in allowing anonymousness and the “freedom” to allow verbal diarrhea by no one being responsible for the source.  Would they regurgitate diarrhea in public if they were accountable for sight and  smell?

          Note: Not attacking or defending sisterhood; rather attacking Vangurad policy.

        6. sisterhood

          PC I stand by my remarks. Maybe the remark that the DA gets off was too strong. However, the article that David printed from the NY Times is proof that many DA’s have little conscience. The writer admitted he went out for celebratory drinks after a death penalty case.

          You call me emotional. Men have tried that argument often, when they run out of ideas. I doubt you pull that line on men very often. It is sexism.  As I’ve mentioned before, I love all of my emotions and you do not insult me by calling me emotional or saying I am ranting. I suggest you skip over all my comments because I will continue criticising the police force as long as it is necessary. Thank you.

    2. Miwok

      and it needs to be said by a woman.

      It is interesting that information must be disseminated by the “right person or race” to be regarded as truthful and informative. One of the lessons of my youth was that elders always had a ear of the youth, but now you have to be the right gender or race to be heard.

      Too Bad.

      1. Alan Miller

        It is interesting that information must be disseminated by the “right person or race” to be regarded as truthful and informative.

        I think you misunderstand my reason for saying this.  I, as a man, saying what Tia said, could be attacked by the “it’s always the man’s fault” crowd.  As well, there is empathy and understanding that a woman could hear from another woman that would not come off that way from a man.

        I understand what you are saying; however, in this case the intent is much more simple and not at all political.

    3. TrueBlueDevil

      Agreed, Mr. Mller. Firebrand / author / academic Camille Paglia has also made this case numerous times… this, a lesbian feminist who fights for straight men!

      She makes arguments that oftentimes gay men “own” their sexuality and decisions, and she feels that straight women could learn something from them. She gets a bit complex, tying art, with history, laws and pop culture… she can really make one think.

    4. sisterhood

      Alan, thanks for clarifying you are not aiming your remarks at me. You & I have discussed this matter of anonymity before. I now feel more comfortable explaining to you that I have been harassed because of my relationship to a registered sex offender. I am also afraid of the police, because although my dad was a cop, I have frequently criticized the force online. I feel like you are a little safer because you have a very common name. I looked for my name once on Facebook. There is only me, not one other person with my name. So, you see, it is quite rare, but I bet there are fifty people with the same name as you in yolo county.  Therefore, you have a sight veil of anonymity, even when you use your name.

    5. Tia Will

      Alan

      While I agree with everything that you posted, I also want to point out the young men use exactly the same excuse to justify their behavior. “I wasn’t responsible because I was drunk” is still a common point of view expressed by both genders. In addition I would like to point out that many men continue to feel that prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmissible diseases is the responsibility of the woman instead of assuming responsibility themselves.

      I am all for dropping our hypocritical and unrealistic prudishness about sex in a highly sexualized society, and teach children of both genders what they need to know in anatomically, hormonally and socially realistic terms rather than playing coy and cute with these functions and then just hoping for the best.

  4. hpierce

    Did you mean to say, “Throughout the [playing of the] recording, Mr. Her appeared visibly uncomfortable. Several times he drank water in an agitated manner and the remainder of the time his eyes were cast downward.”?

  5. Alan Miller

    Tia,

    I think it would be a beautiful thing if you took the comment you made above — the one I and hpierce praised — polished it up a bit and made it into a “special to the Enterprise” piece.  It’s a message rarely heard, and I think it’s one a lot of young women in this town and everywhere need to hear.  Perhaps it will be heard by some and ring true earlier in their lives and be a catalyst for their own spiritual growth.  I would be glad to look at a draft and make suggestions if you are willing to write it.

    1. Tia Will

      Alan

      I may take you up on your offer. Would you still consider it if I included my subsequent reflections on men’s attitudes as well ?

  6. Alan Miller

    Except, Alan,  you can’t rely on mine

    I can’t rely on your — what?

    as I am an anonymous poster…  we should have no status/relevance… per your earlier post…

    And here I thought you were real . . . #sigh#

    You aren’t the great Howard Pierce who lives in South Davis?

    Sometimes I dream of the S— I would say, if only I be anonymous.

    I say plenty of S— as is.

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