Victim’s Psychiatrist Testifies in Child Sexual Abuse Jury Trial

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By Ankita Joshi and Jake Wylie

ALAMEDA, CA – In the ongoing jury trial here Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court of a man who allegedly sexually abused his younger sister for years, the victim’s psychiatrist testified.

(NOTE: The Vanguard will not identify the defendant or victim for confidentiality reasons.)

The defense called Dr. Lisa Cardenas, a child psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente, prior to the jury hearing the doctor’s testimony, to discuss the timeline of her treatment of the alleged victim between 2003 and 2007.

Dr. Cardenas explained that she originally diagnosed her patient in December, 2003, with psychotic disorder not otherwise specified. When her patient later began to present with symptoms of bipolar disorder, she revised her diagnosis in December, 2004 to “schizoaffective disorder.”

This change in diagnosis aligned with the time the victim’s father passed away. Dr. Cardenas began treating the victim not long before that. It was shortly after this that the victim’s brother, whom their mother had made responsible for driving the victim to her therapy appointments, allegedly began his abuse.

In her preliminary testimony Cardenas began by outlining how she had primarily dealt with evaluating the victim’s symptoms and medication management.

She noted that the victim had suffered from auditory hallucinations, including command hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia, and forms of psychosis.

In line with these symptoms, Deputy District Attorney Robert Andrew Ross questioned whether the victim could experience the same hallucinations at different time periods. Dr. Cardenas replied yes.

Before the jury was brought in to hear Cardenas’ testimony, Cardenas was examined by the defense to establish what lines of questioning would be admissible as evidence.

The defense asked Zachery Torry, another psychiatrist who is unrelated to the current case, to be present to listen to and evaluate Cardenas’ testimony and decisions. Torry’s analysis largely agreed with Cardenas.

Of the concepts that Torry was asked to evaluate, the dosage of medication, behavior related to abuse, and forms of psychosis were discussed.

It was also evaluated that, during a time in 2004, the medication was working well for the victim, as there was an improvement of mood, decrease in psychotic symptoms, she was doing well in school and had an establishment of a relationship.

And while Torry stated that these behaviors were inconsistent with someone who was being traumatized/abused, he also stated that no one person presents the same way and the allegations of abuse can very well be true.

Additionally, Torry did note that the dosage prescribed to the victim would have only been prescribed if she had been in a “very seriously decompensated state.”

After Torry was examined by the defense, Judge Thomas Reardon concluded that Torry’s testimony was unnecessary in court.

DDA Ross and Judge Thomas continued with contentions about what would be considered to be hearsay.

Of these contentions was a note from Aug. 8, 2008, which outlined how the victim blamed the defendant for all of her hospitalizations, that she was worried and stressed about her brother, and that he had sexually abused her.

Additionally, DDA Ross read a report outlining how, during a session held during the time of the note, the victim seemed confused about whether the abuse was inflicted by the defendant or by her father, both of whom were alcoholics.

Judge Reardon ruled that some of the elements outlined in these two statements would be hearsay, as they hold some inconsistent patterns with intake forms filled out with the victim.

The Vanguard has previously covered this story, including the victim’s own testimony and testimony by other expert witnesses.

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About The Author

Ankita Joshi is a second-year student at the University of San Francisco, pursuing a major in International Studies and a minor in Political Science. She is originally from Sacramento, CA.

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