Defense attorneys continued on Wednesday to advance their argument that a mother coached two of her four children to give the graphic descriptions of sex with their father and her, which led to both father and mother being accused of sexual assault.
The 39-year-old father is on trial this week, charged with multiple counts of continuous sexual assault of a child under 14. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 25 to 99 years in prison on each count.
He and his wife have four children ranging in age from 7 to 10. Two children testified Tuesday.
The Star-Telegram is using only the man’s first name, Michael, because the newspaper typically does not identfiy accusers in sexual assault cases, and to use his full name might identify his children.
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On Wednesday, Michael testified that he has never done any of the things his children described in court on Tuesday. Everything he is accused of is a lie concocted by his wife, who is angry about their impending divorce, Michael said.
[The boy said] the mother and father had to teach him about sex because the schools did not teach him right.
Yalonda Pone, social worker
“Have you, in any way shape or form, done anything sexually inappropriate with your children?” asked defense attorney Jim Ross. “Have you instructed your children on how to masturbate, use sex toys? Have you shown [your daughter] pornography, pictures of naked people, assisted your son in having sex with your wife?”
Michael answered “no” to all of his questions.
Taking the Fifth
Michael’s wife, who is also charged with continuous sexual assault of a child under 14, exercized her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when she was called to the stand Wednesday. She was returned to the Tarrant County Jail. Her trial is pending, according to court records.
Michael testified that his wife became upset after she was served with divorce papers. The divorce petition was filed June 11, 2014, according to court records.
My wife “appeared to be angry about being served,” Michael said. “She took [my daughter] to police, saying she made an outcry.”
On June 23, 2014, Michael’s oldest daughter was interviewed by Connie Martin, who worked with the Alliance for Children in Tarrant County, a nonprofit child advocacy center. Martin testified that the girl said the last time her father molested her she was 8.
Micheal said he did not know where the two children got the idea that they had been sexually abused. But Michael said if the idea did come from his wife, he no longer wanted her to have access to his children.
Prosecution witnesses testified that during their interviews they did not get any indication that the children were being coached. The children said Tuesday that their parents asked them not to say anything to anyone or else the parents would get in trouble.
I did have information that his mom was trying to get him to not say certain things.
Alexis Chase, forensic interviewer
Yalonda Pone, a licensed clinical social worker working in a private practice, testified that she met with Michael’s four children five times.
The older son told her that “The mother and father had to teach him about sex because the schools did not teach him right,” Pone testified. “He said he did not want to do the sex stuff, but he was afraid his father would get mad if he did not.”
The sexual assaults occurred in 2013 and 2014, witnesses said.
Alexis Chase, a forensic interviewer with Alliance for Children, said Wednesday that Michael’s son showed none of the signs that might indicate coaching. Michael’s son was able to relate the peripheral sights, sounds and smells of his experience, things very difficult to coach, Chase said.
“I had no concerns of him being coached to say something, but felt that someone in his life was telling him not to say something,” Chase said. “I did have information that his mom was trying to get him to not say certain things.”
Living with parents
He was my sister-in-law’s boyfriend. Then he started dating my wife,
Michael, accused of sexual assault of a child.
Michael testified that he and his wife, who had been married for 10 years, lived with their children in his parents’ house until his wife moved out in the summer of 2014 after an argument about car repair. A few weeks later, his wife revealed to him that she had a boyfriend and had withdrawn the children from school, Michael said.
“I met [the boyfriend] before,” Michael testified. “He was my sister-in-law’s boyfriend. Then he started dating my wife.”
By the end of that summer, Michael’s wife, her boyfriend and their children had moved into her parents’ house, according to witness testimony.
“I asked for a restraining order against [the boyfriend] because he had an assault charge pending,” Michael said.
Michael said he also asked for custody of his four children because of the pending assault charge.
Both sides rested their cases Wednesday and closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday in state District Judge David Hagerman’s court. Rustin Brunson is assisting with the defense. Prosecutors Andrea Risinger and Elizabeth Kamber are presenting the state’s case.