A woman the prosecution says was a victim in a Modesto sexual abuse case on Tuesday told the judge she can no longer continue testifying, because the defense attorney’s questions were “appalling.”
It’s unclear how this will affect the trial. The defense attorney asked the court to order the jury to disregard the woman’s testimony and dismiss the charge connected with the witness. The prosecutor said there was already adequate cross-examination of this witness, so the trial should proceed with all the listed charges.
Francisco “Frank” Jose Drumond is on trial. He is accused of committing lewd acts, forcing himself on three underage girls, including two friends of his daughter and a police Explorer. Frank Carson, Drumond’s defense attorney, says the allegations are false and his client is innocent.
The defendant resigned from his job as a reserve Ripon police officer days after police showed up at his Modesto home to investigate allegations of lewd acts with the teenage girls.
Drumond previously worked as a police officer in Modesto and Patterson. He was arrested during a staff meeting Aug. 28, 2009, at the MJC East Campus, where he taught criminal justice, police officials have said.
The woman on the witness stand Tuesday morning was a 17-year-old police Explorer more than 20 years ago, when she claims Drumond forced her to perform oral copulation on him. She’s identified in court as “Jane Doe 3.”
She cried on the witness stand while explaining why she no longer wanted to continue with Carson’s cross-examination. “Because I choose my family over this,” she said outside the presence of the jury. “And I’m done. I forgive Mr. Drumond.”
She told the judge that she has faith in God, and that he will take care of what was done to her. Deputy District Attorney Beth O’Hara De Jong told the judge the witness could no longer continue, suggesting the defense attorney’s line of questioning was too invasive.
The defense attorney has told the jury that his client was a 24-year-old man then, and that Jane Doe 3 was 18 and 19 years old when she had consensual sex with the defendant.
On Tuesday, Carson suggested that maybe the prosecutor asked Jane Doe 3 to stop her testimony, because the witness could be impeached if she continued.
He told the judge that the witness’s demeanor has been consistent with a person with a consciousness of guilt, and that his cross-examination would have revealed to the jury that Jane Doe 3 falsely testified in a preliminary hearing.
“We have barely scratched the surface of the examination of this witness,” Carson argued.
He said the cross-examination should continue if the court isn’t prepared to exclude all of her testimony and drop the charge. “My client’s due process rights trump any discomfort to a witness,” Carson told the judge.
Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Marie Silveira said it was clear Jane Doe 3 was “exhausted by the questions” under cross-examination and was unwilling to put herself through it any longer. She doesn’t anticipate Jane Doe 3 will change her mind, but she ordered the witness to return to court Wednesday to see if she reconsidered.
The judge said she is well aware the defense has thoroughly investigated the prosecution’s witnesses, but that she’s never had someone said to have been a victim be shown her high school year book on the witness stand. But she said this is an extremely serious case, so the court has to consider the defendant’s right to confront his accusers.
Silveira said she doesn’t know if she will take action on the charge related to Jane Doe 3 on Wednesday. She also said she doesn’t know if the trial can proceed, because it might be too difficult for a jury to completely disregard the testimony of someone said to have been a victim.
The attorneys on Tuesday did discuss the possibility of a plea deal that would end the trial, but the judge said that plea deal offer was rejected. She did not indicate which side made the offer or which side declined.