News and Tribune

March 13, 2013

Day 2: Juanita Fisher Trial (10 p.m. update): One of the two alleged child sex abuse victims gives testimony

By GARY POPP
gary.popp@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — One of the alleged victims in a Clark County child molestation case took the witness stand on Wednesday to describe the abuse he says he suffered at the hands of a female relative. 

Testimony from the 17-year-old boy took up the entire second day of the Juanita Fisher child molestation trial, which will continue Friday in Clark County Circuit Court No. 1.

The prosecution claims that the boy and his younger sister, who is now 15, were both sexually abused by Fisher between 2006 and 2008. Each of the three reported incidents took place while Fisher was alone with the children and no other adults were present, according to statements made in court Wednesday. The girl is expected to take the stand later in the trial. 

The young man was the first witness called to testify by Clark County Deputy Prosecutor Linda Lamping, who asked the boy to provide details of the three alleged sexual encounters between himself and Fisher.

The boy testified the first incident occurred when he was less than 14 years old. From the witness stand, the boy described how he was playing a video game when Fisher approached him and told him to touch her breasts and vagina.

During the second alleged incident, Fisher is believed to have involved both the boy and his sister.

The boy said he had been playing outside when Fisher called him and his sister into the home and told them that she wanted them to show her what they had learned from her about sex. 

“That is when we did our intercourse,” the boy testified. 

There is some uncertainty about the boy’s use of the word “intercourse,” however, as there is some indication his use of the term could be in reference to sexual contact, but not sex. Police records describe the incident between the children as “fondling each other’s genitals in her [Juanita Fisher’s] presence.” 

The boy then discussed the third alleged incident, saying he and Fisher had sex and that she performed oral sex on him.

Following the midday court recess, Fisher’s attorney Mitchele Harlan, and co-counsel Jeffrey Stonebraker, cross examined the child.

Harlan spent several hours going back and forth with the boy as he attempted to reveal to the jurors the child’s inconsistent remarks in previous interviews with Department of Child Services officials, attorneys, counselors and investigators.

The boy’s inconsistencies include the times, sequence, exact locations, and his age at the time of the three alleged accounts of sexual abuse.

The child was given to opportunity to express to the jurors why his accounts, which include a denial of the abuse, are less than clear.

“That was a hard time to go through,” he said in the court. “It is hard to remember each day. You keep trying to put it in the past. It, basically, just blows your mind — that sexual contact with your [relative].”

He also gave some explanation why he didn’t come forward sooner and report the  alleged abuse, which he said occurred while he was in the fifth grade.

“I was just scared to tell anybody that they would think bad of me,” he said. “I just kept it inside.”

Fisher is facing two counts of class A felony child molestation; C felony child molestation; B felony incest; two counts vicarious sexual gratification, both C felonies; and D felony obstruction of justice.

Judge Daniel Moore is presiding over the case in Clark County Circuit Court No 1. There will be no trial proceedings Thursday due to scheduling conflicts. The trial is set to continue Friday morning.