By Joanna Kwong and Haroutun Bejanyan
The witness for the People during the afternoon court session in the trial of Daniel West included the alleged victim, a young girl, who claimed she was molested by her father.
The alleged victim is 15 years old, and she has lived in Woodland most of her life. She lives with her mom, dad, older sister, two older brothers, and a younger sister. She’s the fourth child in the family.
She grew up homeschooled until 9th grade, where she attended Woodland Christian School, a private school.
Her father was not usually involved in her homeschool activities. He worked night shifts, and he would be around during the day, but he would also sleep a lot until he had to go to work around 4 or 5PM. The father worked at UPS as a truck driver. He did not work on weekends.
The People presented four pictures that the alleged victim identified as pictures of her house from the front and top view.
The alleged victim attended church, and she was a member of her church youth group. She was very close to her church youth group leader.
The attorney for the People, Deputy DA Garrett Hamilton, began to ask the alleged victim a series of more personal and sensitive issues.
The 15-year-old identifies as a lesbian. She met her current girlfriend during her 9th grade year, and they have been dating for almost a year.
She kept her sexual identity a secret for years until she finally told her family in October of 2013. This was a tough time for her and her parents, especially since they identified as very traditional Christians.
The alleged victim mentioned that secrets started to come out during January of 2014. The secret that she was molested by her father, Daniel West, got the attention of adults.
She first told her friend, whom she thought she could trust and relate to since her friend went through a similar situation. Her friend urged the alleged victim to tell someone. The friend eventually told an adult who then told the alleged victim’s church youth group leader.
The alleged victim’s church youth group leader reached out to her a few weeks later to speak about the situation. She told her what had happened as basically as she could, and stated, “My dad touched me.”
The alleged victim did not mention to her mom or anyone else in the family that her father touched her. She only mentioned this to her older sister after her church youth group leader advised her to speak with her older sister to see if a similar situation happened with her and the dad, as well.
A police officer and a social worker arrived at the alleged victim’s school a few weeks after. She did not talk much to either of them because she felt scared and emotional.
The alleged victim then went to have a longer interview from someone else after school. She remembered feeling scared and not wanting to do the interview.
Morning Session November 5
The prosecution’s questioning of the 15-year-old alleged victim resumed on November 5 in the trial of Daniel West. The alleged victim is the daughter of the defendant, who is facing charges of molestation.
Deputy DA Garrett Hamilton thoroughly presented an in-depth line of questioning in an attempt to activate the alleged victim’s memory of the incidents, but she was still having trouble recalling many crucial details.
She recollected that the last she had seen of her father was after an interview with the campus policeman at her high school, when she came home to find out that her father had permanently moved out.
The first time she had seen him since then was at the first day of trial, November 4, which she described as a “scary” feeling for her.
However, when asked about the last time she had been touched inappropriately by her father, she did not remember. When asked about specific dates and circumstances regarding the incidents, she also did not remember.
However, she did recall that the inappropriate touching by her father occurred on three separate occasions. The first of the incidents she testified about took place on her 13th birthday, shortly before her birthday party that evening.
She was in the kitchen preparing the last of her party snacks when her father allegedly approached her from behind, grabbed her hips and rubbed his private parts against her buttocks.
During her testimony she cringed and scrunched her face in disgust, repulsively stating, “It felt gross and disturbing.”
In the most recent incident, she was in the pool at their house when her father again approached her from behind, placing his hands on and feeling both of her breasts. This was only a few days after her mother’s birthday in July of 2014.
The last of the incidents she recounted was also the earliest one that she described, from when she was around 10 or 11. It was apparent that this particular incident was the most traumatic for her to recount, for it evoked emotional states of grief and anguish as she testified.
While she was in the kitchen making herself something to eat, her father approached from behind as in the other two incidents. He put both of his hands down into her pants and groped her buttocks with skin on skin contact. “He always came up behind me, surprising me. He used it to his advantage.”
She remembered reacting to each of these incidents by becoming still and frozen with shock.
Her eyes welled up and her speech stifled during testimony, she confided, “It’s hard for me to remember. I don’t like to remember them [the incidents].” Overwhelmed with emotion, the alleged victim asked to take an early break.
When the trial resumed after break, the prosecution asked the alleged victim to reveal her reasons for not notifying authorities earlier. The alleged victim stated she was worried that if people found out, it would tear her family apart.
Since her father financially supported their whole family, including all of her older and younger siblings, she figured that if something happened they would end up becoming broke.
She expressed that she never wanted nor intended to do harm to her father by fabricating lies about him.
When asked by Mr. Hamilton how she felt about the current situation at the moment, the alleged victim replied that she has mixed feelings about it. On one hand, she is anxious about the verdict, but on the other, she is relieved that she will not have to experience inappropriate touching by her father ever again.
She further disclosed that she was still not sure how she wanted the verdict to go. For months leading up to this point, she has had a mental debate over it.
There are times, the alleged victim said, when she wishes she had never told anyone. “It hurts me to see my family in this situation.”