By Haroutun Bejanyan, Joanna Kwong and Tiffany Yeh
On the morning of the last day of Job Rodarte’s trial, medical expert Dr. Angela Vickers, who conducts sexual assault exams on children, was called to the stand by the prosecution. On January 6, 2014, Dr. Vickers conducted a non-acute exam of M, three years after the alleged rape by her father had occurred.
According to Vickers, internal injuries of the anus and genitals heal after about three days due to the mucus membrane’s quick healing properties.
Therefore, in order to identify injuries due to sexual assault, it is crucial for an acute exam to be conducted within three days following an incident. Otherwise, healing occurs and it becomes difficult to identify any injuries that could serve as vital evidence of sexual assault.
In some instances there is scarred healing, but in this case Dr. Vickers was not able to find any mark of healed injuries three years after.
Dr. Vickers added that it is quite common for there not to be any indication of injuries to children under 12 years old.
M, the alleged victim, was not only well under 12 years old when the alleged incident occurred, but the exam was also conducted three years after the incident, giving ample time for any possible injuries to disappear.
When the defense attorney began his cross-examination, he made the only move he had left, to attack the reliability and objectivity of the prosecution’s expert. The defense attempted to allude to the existence of bias in Dr. Vickers’ testimony.
Dr. Vickers revealed that a vast majority of her testimonies have been for the prosecution and roughly one percent has been for the defense. Following up this statement, the defense asked, “Is it fair to say you’re a prosecution doctor?” “No, I’m a pediatric doctor who has been called by the prosecution more often.”
The defense then advanced to discredit the academic material from which Dr. Vickers draws her expertise. “Are the reports you read prosecution oriented?” Dr. Vickers effectively countered, repelling the disparaging question, “The literature I study comes from experts in the medical field, articles that are objective and based on science.”
The trial for People v. Rodarte resumed during the afternoon of Friday, October 23. The defendant, Job Rodarte, is charged with 21 counts of sodomy with his biological daughter.
The afternoon session resumed with the testimony of an interviewer from the Multi-disciplinary Interview Center (MDIC) who interviewed the alleged victim, who is referred to as M. The alleged victim approached the MDIC to get help and confront the situation that has been plaguing her from age five until now.
The attorney for the defense questioned the witness on whether M was ever given a break during the interview session with her. The witness replied, “No,” but continued to mention that individuals who request a break are never denied one.
However, the defense continued to press the fact that the alleged victim may have felt the need to say what the interviewer wanted to hear in order to leave and get a break. The witness replied that the MDIC is a friendly and welcoming place that allows a victim to speak freely and safely, and a break is provided whenever the victim feels like he or she needs one.
The witness continued to mention that she did not get the impression that M needed a break by the way she spoke or related her testimony during the interview.
Following the end of the witness’s testimony, the defense argued that the alleged victim does not know the difference between urinary fluids and seminal fluids. This was referring to the incident during which M noticed her underwear was wet, with what she thought was the defendant’s seminal fluid.
The defense also argued that the dates mentioned by the alleged victim are too vague, and that the non-consensual sexual incidents that happened between her and Rodarte between the ages of five to 12 years are not specific enough.
In addition, the defense mentioned that the interviewer for the MDIC was not trained properly on how to detect when a victim needs a break or is “exaggerating the testimony.”
Defense stated there are too many inconsistencies for this to be a case. He provided the example of the Tahoe incident the alleged victim described in a prior testimony. M mentioned sexual anal intercourse took place, but she later recalled that such intercourse did not happen.
Lastly, the defense made it clear that the defendant was being overcharged with the 21 counts of sodomy.
The prosecuting attorney argued that the case has been proved by the testimony of the alleged victim.
The prosecution also stated that the incident at Tahoe was not a lie fabricated by the alleged victim, but it was an unintentional misspoken mistake. The prosecuting attorney made it clear that these non-consensual sexual incidents happened so often that it is hard for the alleged victim to be able to remember every detail of every event that has happened.
The defense argued and questioned how much weight should really be put on the evidence for the conviction of each of the counts.
The judge ruled that the jury will decide on how much weight will be put on the evidence and testimonies, to determine how the defendant should be charged.
During jury instructions, the judge made it clear to the jury that the video of the defendant masturbating while repeatedly saying his step-daughter’s name can no longer be considered evidence.
The judge went through each count that the defendant is charged with:
Count 1: Defendant committed a lewd or lascivious act on a child under the age of 14 years old.
Counts 2-8: Defendant is charged in counts 2-8 with sexual penetration with a person who was under the age of 14 and is at least 10 years younger than the defendant.
Counts 9-17: Defendant is charged in counts 9-17 with engaging in oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child 10 years of age or younger.
Count 18: Defendant is charged in count 18 with attempted oral copulation with a child 10 years of age or younger.
Counts 19-21: Defendant is charged in counts 19-21 with engaging in sodomy with a child 10 years of age of younger.