By Sarah Gregory
Dennis Lee Azevedo is being charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, including oral copulation and sodomy with a minor. He is accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy periodically over several weeks at the local branch of the Yolo County Public Library.
Officer Keirith Briesenick was the first witness called to testify by the prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Jennifer McHugh. Officer Briesenick is with the Davis Police Department and was the first to initiate the investigation into this case.
Briesenick responded to a service call at a junior high school in Davis. When she arrived at the school, she spoke with the alleged victim’s teacher.
The complaining witness reportedly disclosed to his teacher that he had been sexually assaulted by an older man at the Mary L. Stephens Davis Branch Library several times. After speaking to the teacher, Officer Briesenick interviewed the alleged victim.
The alleged victim described the male attacker to be an older Caucasian man with graying hair.
The complaining witness stated that he first saw the man in the back of the library near the teen section. Shortly afterward, the boy went to the restroom and the man reportedly followed him into a stall. The man allegedly commanded the boy to “duck down.” The alleged victim then proceeded to give the man oral copulation and vice versa.
The alleged victim indicated that the man performed anal intercourse on him only once, but they performed oral copulation on each other every time they met in the restroom. The sexual assaults supposedly occurred every Thursday night for several weeks.
Next, the defense attorney, Vincent R. Maher, cross-examined Officer Briesenick. Mr. Maher asked the witness if she had received any background information about the alleged victim from his teacher before she interviewed him.
Briesenick indicated that she had, and that the teacher had notified her that he was developmentally disabled. The alleged victim is 14 years old, and cognitively functions at a 2nd or 3rd grade level.
She spent about 30 minutes questioning the alleged victim. In her interview, the boy indicated that his last sexual encounter with the man was about a week before. Officer Briesenick did not ask for any clarifications or specifics, as she knew that an MDI would be conducted later on in the investigation.
An MDI refers to a Multi-Disciplinary Interview, usually of child abuse victims. The goal of an MDI is for detectives to conduct an interview without adding trauma to the victim while successfully building an investigation. An MDI is conducted by an interviewer who is fed a portion of the questions by the investigating detectives.
The defense asked Officer Briesenick if the alleged victim ever mentioned being threatened by the man. She stated that he had only indicated that he was scared most of the time, and she could not determine the cause.
Next, the prosecutor called her second witness, Detective Janell Bestpitch, also of the Davis Police Department, to testify. Detective Bestpitch conducted an interview with the alleged victim’s aunt on April 26, 2016.
The aunt has had legal custody of the boy for about three years. Bestpitch questioned the aunt about the extent of the boy’s developmental disability. She provided a generalization, stating that her nephew is good at remembering which day of the week it is, but is foggy when it comes to recalling what happened the day before.
A few days later, Bestpitch conducted an MDI with the complaining witness. The interviewer asked him to recount all of the sexual incidents that occurred between himself and the man he met at the library.
The alleged victim indicated that the man was the one that always followed him into the restroom and initiated the sexual acts. Bestpitch had to review the interview transcript several times to refresh her memory. This prompted the prosecutor to suggest audio of the interview be played later on in the hearing.
The prosecutor decided to move on to a different subject. She questioned Detective Bestpitch about an interview of staff personnel at the library.
Bestpitch stated that she went to the library and gave the alleged victim’s description of his attacker. The staff recalled a man who periodically goes to that specific branch and gave her his name. This man was later identified as the defendant.
Bestpitch then performed a records check through the DMV database and had the complaining witness pick the defendant out of a photo lineup. The next day, Detective Bestpitch went to Mr. Azevedo’s listed residence and questioned him about the boy’s accusations.
Bestpitch provided Azevedo with a fake name and asked the defendant if he knew who that person was. The defendant indicated he did not, so Bestpitch showed him a photo. The defendant stated that he had seen the boy at the library a few times and that the boy would walk around the library and stare at him for long periods of time.
The defendant admitted to the detective to having sexual relations with the boy, including oral copulation and masturbation. However, the defendant was adamant that no anal intercourse ever occurred.
The defendant told the detective he had no idea how old the alleged victim was, stating that he was “bad at ages.” He was therefore surprised to discover the alleged victim was only 14 years old.
Next, the defense cross-examined Det. Bestpitch. The defense attorney confirmed several aspects of the defendant’s statement that day on April 30, 2016.
The defendant corroborated the alleged victim’s statement that neither of them spoke to each other in or outside of the restroom. This explains how neither the defendant nor the alleged victim knew each other’s names.
As Azevedo recounted to the detective his sexual encounters with the alleged victim, Bestpitch noted that his version of events was drastically different from the boy’s. The defendant described the complaining witness as being sexually aggressive, and insisted that all of the encounters were completely consensual. No force was ever involved, according to the defendant.
According to Azevedo, the victim was so aggressive that the defendant started avoiding him at the library and even stopped going there altogether about a month before the interview.
Bestpitch went on to describe the defendant’s version of the first sexual encounter. He stated to her that they were in the restroom and the alleged victim was in the stall next to him. The alleged victim proceeded to lower his penis underneath the partition between the stalls in full view of the defendant and began masturbating.
At this point, the defendant had no idea who was in the other stall and left the restroom as quickly as he could.
The defense then referenced another portion of the defendant’s interview, where he had described the alleged victim as crawling into his stall and turning around with his pants down, indicating he wanted the defendant to perform anal intercourse on him. The defendant told the detective that he refused.
As opposed to the alleged victim’s statement to authorities, the defendant indicated the boy was the one that followed him into the restroom and pursued him sexually.
When asked how many times these encounters occurred, the defendant replied only a few times, and he was adamant that it was no more than five times.
Detective Bestpitch pulled surveillance video from the library and found the defendant does not appear in any of the footage at the times the alleged victim stated the incidents occurred.
The victim’s aunt also indicated that her nephew would argue with her to be allowed to go to the library after dinner. There was a particular instance on March 17, 2016, where the alleged victim is shown on video entering the library at 7:26 pm, heading straight for the restroom and leaving about ten minutes later. According to the complete video of that evening, the defendant never went to the library.
In the MDI, the alleged victim also stated that he never spoke to the defendant. The defense argued that this contradicts the alleged victim’s initial statement where he said the defendant told him to “duck down.” It was later revealed in the MDI that everything the alleged victim thought he heard during the incidents was in his head.
The complaining witness also indicated in interviews how he felt during these encounters, that he was primarily shocked. He said he wanted to scream, but was unable to.
The defense referred to the interview transcript and indicated a passage where the alleged victim stated he was “unable to control” himself. The defendant stated the alleged victim ejaculated in his mouth, which indicates the alleged victim was possibly enjoying the sexual encounters.
The defense asked Bestpitch if the alleged victim ever indicated why he continually returned week after week to the library on Thursday evenings. She stated that, in the interview transcript, the boy stated he came back “because it was Thursday.”
The prosecutor asked Det. Bestpitch if the alleged victim is able to express himself despite his disability. Bestpitch replied that the boy’s aunt indicated it is hard for her nephew, due to his disability, to express himself because of a cognitive delay.
The preliminary hearing will reconvene in Department 7 at 1:30 pm on August 23, 2016, at the Yolo County Superior Court.