Three Finger Cove – Robert
Copyright © 2012 - 2016
All rights reserved
All rights reserved
Robert woke with a start. He thought he had overslept but, when he looked at his alarm clock, it showed he still had fifteen minutes, before it would ring. The lad got up, anyway, and proceeded to take care of his morning needs and then brushed his teeth and took his shower. He arrived in the Kitchen Nook before his 'dad' did, that morning.
The two, Three Finger Cove residents, arrived at the courthouse at 9:30 AM. They immediately found Bill and Stewart and sat down, and talked things over, while they waited for DA Morris or his Assistant, John Green. The two District Attorney's both appeared about five minutes later.
George Morris, explained, to Robert, how the court would proceed, that morning, but he wouldn't promise the lad he'd be called that morning, to testify. The man told him it was all dependent on the procedures and any motions his father's lawyer filed before hand. He did tell the preteen he, more than likely, would be called that day. They'd just have to wait and see.
Ken Thomas took Robert to the Men's restroom for them both to get rid of any anxious needs before they entered the courtroom. They got to the courtroom and found most of the seats were taken. But George Morris had seats reserved for them right behind him, at the railing. They had no sooner sat down that the Bailiff called out, "All rise, this District Court is now in session, the Honorable Judge Steven Rossenburger presiding." After the judge had been seated, the Bailiff told all those present to be seated.
"Is the State, ready?" asked the judge.
"We are, your Honor," replied DA Morris.
"Is the defendant present and ready for trial?" asked the judge.
"He is and we are, your Honor," replied Steven Stricklunds, Frank Harrison's lawyer.
"I understand that one of the defendant's has accepted a Plea. Is that corrects Mr. Morris?" asked Judge Rossenburger.
"Yes, your Honor, Angela Harrison has accept a Plea and will be testifying for the prosecution," replied DA Morris.
"Was the defendants' lawyer made aware that she would testify, Mr. Morris?" directly asked the judge.
"Yes your Honor. Mr. Stricklunds was made aware, over a month ago, that she would be offered a Plea, and would be testifying, against her husband, if she accepted it. Angela Harrison accepted the Plea yesterday morning and Mr. Stricklunds was immediately made aware of that fact, your Honor," fully explained DA Morris.
"Mr. Stricklunds," began Judge Rossenburger, "was your client made aware of the offered Plea, to his co-defendant, and the provision for Angela Harrison to testify against her husband?
"Your Honor, my client was aware of the offered Plea and understood his wife could testify against him, if she accepted the Plea," answered Frank Harrison's lawyer.
"Are you prepared to defend your client, knowing that she will be testifying?" asked Judge Rossenburger.
"Your Honor, I am prepared to defend my client, under those circumstances," answered Steven Stricklunds.
"Mr. Stricklunds … is your client fully aware of the State law provision that allows for the spouse to testify under 'special' circumstances?" asked the Judge.
"My client is aware of the 'special' provisions, in State law, which allows a spouse to testify against their spouse, due to those circumstances," replied Mr. Stricklunds
"Lastly, Mr. Stricklunds, does your client understand those 'special' provision and is ready to go to trial?"
"Yes, your Honor, my client is prepared to go to trial knowing and understanding those provisions," replied Mr. Stricklunds.
"Is the jury ready, Mr. Foreperson?" asked the judge.
"We are, your Honor," answered the foreperson.
"Will the prosecution and defendant's lawyers approach the bench," directed the judge.
"Gentlemen, you both know there is a fragile, twelve year old, child who will be testifying during this trial. I will NOT allow for any badgering of that witness. You understand me?" bluntly asked Judge Rossenburger.
Both lawyers said they understood the guidelines and would tread lightly when asking the boy any questions. When the lawyers returned to their respective places, the administrative functions, of the court, were then accomplished. The charges against the accused were read. The accused was then given the opportunity to enter his plea. The defendant responded "Not guilty!" to the charges. The judge then asked if the court reporter was ready. He then asked the prosecution if his witnesses were available and ready to proceed. There were a few more items that needed to be covered, before the actual trail could proceed, and those took longer than expected.
Watching the time, when asked to proceed, George Morris rose and addressed the Judge. "You Honor … my examination of my first witness, I expect, will take considerable time and noticing the present time I would ask the courts indulgence and suggest we adjourn for an early lunch. But, if your Honor deems that we use the time this morning, I am prepared to call my first witness."
"Your suggestion will be taken under advisement, Mr. Prosecutor. Call you first Witness, Mr. Morris," directed Judge Rossenburger.
"The prosecution calls Robert Arthur Harrison to the stand," called out George Morris.
Robert made his way past the people, in his row, and out to the main aisle. Mr. Morris opened the railing gate for him to enter and directed the lad to take the seat in the witness stand. Robert did as he was asked, but he didn't do it with vigor. He took his time so he wouldn't stumble and make his testimony look like a 'joke'.
When the preteen was finally on the stand, the Bailiff took the Bible over to the lad and asked him, "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?"
Robert took a deep breath, knowing it had started and replied, "I do!"
The trial of Frank Harrison was now on.
Please state your name," directed George Morris.
"Robert Arthur Harrison," replied Robert.
"What is your relationship to the defendant?" asked the DA.
"He's … he's my father," answered Robert.
DA Morris spent the next five to seven minutes, asking Robert questions, such as, his age, where he resided with his parents, the school he attended when he resided with his parents, his grades before his dad's arrest and after the arrest, and other questions that would clarify the lad's bona fides that he knows the defendant and can accurately answer questions pertaining to the charges placed on the defendant.
The DA then took so much time posing and clarifying his questions, to Robert, and Robert took his time in answering them, that this caused the lunch hour to come along before the DA was to get to the direct questions concerning the trial.
Judge Rossenburger knew exactly what the DA was doing and he didn't stop him. He did say he would take the DA's suggestion to go to lunch, early, 'under advisement' and was allowing the stunt to proceed, since the defendant's lawyer hadn't even objected to what the DA was doing. When the judge saw the clock was now past 11:30 AM, he stopped the DA and asked him if he minded they took an early lunch and could resume the questioning that afternoon. When the judge got an affirmative response from Mr. Morris, the judge asked the defendant's lawyer if he had any objections. Hearing no objections, Judge Rossenburger gaveled the trial into adjournment and for the trial to resume at 1 PM, that afternoon.
Ken Thomas took Robert, Bill and Stewart out to lunch. They discussed the strategy DA Morris was using but it was way too early, in the trial, to make any conclusions. The three men asked Robert not to eat too much as he could find himself on the stand for most of, if not all, the afternoon court session. When the four finished eating they strode around outside getting some fresh air before heading back, into the courtroom. At 1 PM, the Bailiff called everyone present to "All stand". The afternoon session of Frank Harrison's trail was about to begin.
"Counselor, are you ready to proceed?" asked Judge Rossenburger, of DA Morris. "If you are then recall your witness."
Robert was redirected back to the witness stand. After Robert was seated, Judge Rossenburger reminded the lad that he was still under oath. Robert said he understood. DA Morris then asked the lad if he was prepared to answer more questions concerning his father and hearing the lad was prepared, Mr. Morris began asking the questions he had ready.
"Robert," began DA Morris, "can you tell this court … when and how your father got you involved with a lot of strange men."
"Well, sir … when I turned ten years old, my dad told me he had a job for me," began Robert. Then, for the next three hours, DA Morris asked the lad questions regarding how many men he had to go with, to describe a typical weekend he spent with any of the men, who did his father say the men were, what were the names of the men who took him for the weekends, and, lastly, where they took him,.
DA George Morris's follow-on questions had Robert tell him what he and the men first did when they arrived at their final destination, how often he saw these men, did he go with the same man more than any of the others, and lastly, Robert was asked to tell the court how the sexual abuse began to include the name of the man who did whatever to him.
Robert held fast as the trooper he was. He answered the DA's questions as posed to him and sometimes he asked for clarification. He named each of the men he went with, but said he wasn't too sure if the name they used was their actual name. The lad also described the places he went with the men and named places like Los Angles and Disneyland and Universal Studios. He told the court about the many amusement parks and the museums he visited and a few other cities he'd been taken to. Robert explained he saw some of the men quite often and then he never saw them again, but there were always new men who he had to go with.
When it came time for Robert to describe the sexual abuse he had to endure, the boy told of the tickling and then the removal of only his shirt and, as he started to tell of the fondling of his privates and then eventual disrobing he began to break down and cry. The judge stopped the proceedings to allow the boy to compose himself and take a drink of water.
The defendant's s lawyer did object to a few wordings of the questions and to some of the responses Robert gave but the judge overruled the man, each and every time, and allowed DA Morris to continue to ask his questions. As the afternoon moved along, the DA's questions became much more difficult for Robert.
The lad was eventually asked to describe the actual sexual acts he was required to perform or were performed on him. Doing that made the preteen cry and needed lots of tissues before he could continue. The judge did stop the proceedings, a time or two, for the lad and as he continued the trial he encouraged the lad to continue and that it would soon would be all over.
Due to the number of questions, DA George Morris asked Robert, and the length of Robert's answers to those questions, coupled with the occasional delays of the trial, due to Robert's crying, the afternoon court session came to a close, for the day, at a few minutes past 4 PM. The judge gaveled the proceedings closed for the day, at that time, and told everyone that court would be back in session at 9:30 AM, the next day, Friday.
Robert practically collapsed in his 'dad' arms after he got down off the witness stand. The two quickly made their way to the man's BMW and they left the parking lot as fast as they could. When they returned, to The Cove, Mr. Ken took Robert up to his bedroom and helped the lad undress. He then encouraged the boy to use the bathroom and then climb into bed to rest. Robert was so exhausted from his ordeal, on the witness stand, that his head no sooner touched his pillow that he was fast asleep. Ken then asked Chief to watch over her boy and to get him when the lad awoke.
It was almost 7 PM when 'dad' Ken went up to his 'son's' bedroom, to wake him, so the lad could get something to eat. Momma Maria had made toasted cheese sandwiches and served warm tomato soup to go with them. Mr. Ken told her not to make anything to spicy or heavy as the lad needed to testify, the next morning, and he didn't want the boy to have anything too heavy on his stomach.
After the preteen ate, he and his 'dad', and Chief, went down to the Theater, and they put on a movie. Robert curled up against his 'dad' and began to cry. All 'dad' Ken could do was to console the boy, as best he could, and encourage him to not give up and allow his dad to 'Win'. Robert didn't say anything to his 'dad', that evening. He just continued to lay there and relish in the feelings of comfort and safety and love the man had for him. It was 9:30 when Mr. Ken got Robert back up to his bedroom, and off to sleep.
Robert had almost ten hours of sleep, going into Friday morning, and when he awoke he felt much better than he had when he returned home the afternoon before. After getting himself cleaned up and dressed, the lad proceeded down to the Kitchen Breakfast Nook to eat with his 'dad'.
"Good Morning 'dad'", offered Robert when he walked to the Nook.
"Good morning, sport. I hope you had a good night's rest last night," replied Mr. Ken.
"'Dad', I think I did," responded Robert. "I know I had a good dream, about the trial, and my dad, my real dad, was convicted and … he did sign the papers that allow me to be adopted. And 'dad' … I want to thank you for staying with me and hugging me but, most of all … I want to Thank You for talking to me about not letting my dad WIN. That was in my dream, too. … I know you actually did say those words to me, down in the Theater, but in my dream I … I heard them again and I know they will give me the strength to get through my testifying, today."
The two Cove residents arrived at the courthouse, at about 9 AM. They met again, first with Bill Jackson and Stewart Russell, and, then, with George Morris and John Green. Robert had also gotten some pointers from both Bill and Stewart about answering the DA's questions and some encouragement, about how well he was doing, from George and John. Then, before he entered the courtroom, Robert visited the Men's Restroom to get rid of some excess fluids which were telling him they wanted 'out'.
At 9:30, the Bailiff called the courtroom to order and Judge Rossenburger entered and sat down at his bench. After shuffling through some papers, the judge asked if everyone associated with the trial was present. Finding they were, he asked the prosecution if he had any more questions for the witness. Robert was recalled to the witness stand.
DA Morris approached the witness stand and began asking Robert a few follow-on questions that would refresh the jury's memory, about what the trial was all about, and to possibly rekindle any new memories that Robert may have recalled after he departed the courthouse the previous day. Having finished with his witness, DA Morris turned the cross-examination over to Defense Attorney, Joseph Stricklunds, Frank Harrison's lawyer.
"Bobby, let me ask …" began Steve Stricklunds, but didn't get any further when he heard 'Bobby' say. "Robert … my name's Robert."
"Oh, yes … okay, now where was I? Oh, yes, as I was saying … Bobby, can you tell me …" and again 'Bobby' said, louder this time, "Robert, MY NAME IS Robert."
It was then Judge Rossenburger reminded Attorney Joe Stricklunds that, "The name of the witness is Robert Arthur Harrison and at the pre-trial hearing the witness asked us to call him Robert. Twice now, he has corrected you and told you his name is 'Robert'. Now … counselor … let me remind you of our side-bar conference, at the beginning of this trial. Counselor, if you persist in calling this witness anything other than 'Robert', I will hold you in contempt of this court. Do you understand me MR. STRICKLUNDS?" a very angry judge asked, as much as he announced what he wanted.
"Yes, your Honor … I … I totally understand what you are asking me to do," meekly replied the defense counsel.
"See, that you do, counselor," remarked the judge. "Continue."
"Robert … you told us a very big story yesterday. One that is very … well, very hard to believe. You told this court, yesterday, the story that your dad, my client, when you turned ten years of age, made you go with strange men just about every weekend until he was arrested. You further claimed these so-called men … these men, that the authorities have not yet been able to identify ... that these men eventually had you perform sexual acts with them. How can this court believe such an outlandish story as the one you told? Answer me, Robert, how can this be?" finally finished Joe Stricklunds.
"Robert quickly answered, "Yes, there was too a man who was identified and he too was arrested! I was there when they arrested him"
"Come, come, now, Robert … you told this court … yesterday, that there were at least as many as thirty-five men, who you went with, virtually EVERY weekend for almost two years, and ONLY one, you say, ONLY ONE … has been identified. How can that be, Robert? How can it be that ONLY one man out of thirty-five, you say, has ever been identified over these past nine to twelve months? Can you answer that for me?" counselor Stricklunds slightly badgered the witness.
Robert sat there and wondered what the question was he was supposed to answer. He tried to follow along, with Mr. Stricklunds, but he heard so many 'Only One's' and individual questions he didn't know what to answer. He then looked up to the judge as asked," What is it he wants me to answer?"
That question brought a laugh from the spectators, observing the trial, who promptly got gaveled, by the judge, to be quiet.
"What is it you want to know?" asked Judge Rossenburger.
"Well, you Honor, I heard a few 'Only Ones' and a few questions in Mr. Stricklunds talk that I don't know which way to answer. Could you ask him to please ask his questions one at a time?" requested Robert.
Judge Rossenburger smiled at Robert and, at his request, but knew exactly how to handle the lad's request. Then looking down at the Court Reporter, the judge said, "Would the Court reporter … please read Mr. Stricklunds last series of questions and statements for the witness?"
The court reporter looked back through his notes and began to read. "Come, come, now, Robert … you told this court … yesterday, that there were at least as many as thirty-five men, who you went with, virtually EVERY weekend for almost two years, and ONLY one, you say, ONLY ONE … has been identified. How can that be, Robert? How can it …" and the judge stopped him there.
"Robert … can you answer that question?" asked the judge.
"Yes, sir … I believe I can answer that," replied Robert.
"Then please do," asked the judge.
"The reason, I believe that only one man has been identified, so far, is that I haven't come across any others, yet. I've only come face-to-face with one, of the men, who took me for the weekends and paid my father," answered Robert.
Again, the court spectator's laughed out loud, at the lad's response, and, again, the judge had to gavel them to be quiet. He also warned them he would clear the gallery the next time they laughed at this witnesses answers.
"Robert, could you rephrase your response or possibly clarify it?" asked the judge.
Robert sat there, for a few moments, and then replied, "Yea, sure … ahh, sorry sir, yes your Honor. Think I can. What I mean is … that only one man has been identified, by me. That none of the other men have been where I've been so I haven't seen them to identify them."
"Counselor, are you okay with that answer?" the judge asked the defense attorney.
"Yes your Honor ... I think I can work with that answer," Joe Stricklunds smirked out his reply.
"Proceed court reporter," directed the judge.
"Oh, yes … here it is. 'How can that be, Robert?'" read the court reporter.
"Objection your Honor … the court reporter read the question out of context. I ask he read everything I said, in its entirety. What he read doesn't represent anything like what I asked the witness," complained the defense attorney.
DA Morris then stood up and yelled, "I object to defense counsels line of questioning. He badgered the witness with his run-on questions and statements and now he wants this court to validate what he said by reading what he originally said that was obviously confusing to the witness. I ask his statement and his questions be stricken, from the record, and the defense counsel be made to restate what he wants the witness to answer."
"You two … approach the bench!" angrily said the judge.
After the two lawyers stood in front of the judge's bench, there appeared to be a heated argument being carried on between the two lawyers and the judge. Then, the courtroom loudly heard Judge Rossenburger say, "I warned you before we even started. Now, do as I directed or be held in contempt! Take your choice Mr. Stricklunds." The judge then pointed for the men to take their places.
"The court reporter will strike what Mr. Stricklunds said to the witness and the defense counsel will rephrase the questions he wants the witness to answer," ruled the judge. "Mr. Stricklunds, proceed."
"Yes your Honor. Okay, Robert … let me ask my questions in a different way. Why is it that you say there are thirty-five men, who you went with, but only one … has EVER been identified?" now asked he defense counsel.
"Well, sir, I thought I did answer that," succinctly replied Robert.
"I don't think you did answer, Robert, because there never were thirty-five men, were there? There never were thirty men, or twenty men, or even five me, were there, Robert?" almost screamed Joe Stricklunds.
"Objection your Honor," called out DA Morris, as he abruptly stood up. "Counsel is badgering the witness and not presenting his question in a form that can illicit an answer!"
"Sustained! Counselor, you've been warned twice, now, about the treatment of this witness. You have one last opportunity to state your question you want the witness to answer. Do you really understand counselor what will happen to you IF you stray again?" angrily stated Judge Rossenburger.
"Yes, judge. … Okay, Robert," Steve Stricklunds began, "let me try this question another way. Why is it that only one man out of thirty–five men have been identified?"
"As I said … I've only come face-to-face with one of them," replied Robert.
"And why is that, Robert?" further defense counsel.
"I can't answer that," said Robert.
"Your Honor … please direct the witness to answer the question," requested Joe Stricklunds.
"The witness is asked to refine his answer and explain why he can't answer the question," directed the judge.
"I haven't been out anywhere that I could have even seen them. When I was in my first three foster homes they never allowed me to go anywhere. So, how could I come face-to-face with them?" replied Robert.
"Well, tell this court, then, how is it … you did come face-to-face, with one man, and was able to identify him?" Steve wanted to know.
"I don't know if I am allowed to answer that? Can I talk to my lawyer, first?" Robert answered.
"Objection your Honor. The witness obviously doesn't know the answer and only wants to talk to counsel in order to make up a name," bellowed Steve Stricklunds.
"Objection your Honor," now stood DA Morris. "There definitely IS a man who has been arrested in this very complicated case. You yourself know who it is but …"
"Enough! This court is adjourned, for fifteen minutes, while both counsels join me in my chambers. The jury will be remanded to their jury room," gaveled the judge. The judge, DA Morris and defense attorney Stricklunds went to the backside of the courtroom and exited. The jury filed out of the courtroom, too.
Robert jumped down off the witness box and hurried to his 'dad'. The two hugged and then Stewart told Robert he was doing a good job of perplexing the defense counsel and to continue to answer as little as possible to any of his questions. Bill Jackson then asked the lad how he was feeling about the defense counsels attempt at badgering him and giving misleading questions. All Robert had to say was he felt fine and it was easier than his time, yesterday, on the witness stand. They all had a good laugh over that.
The prosecution and defense counsels returned to the courtroom and soon-there-after, the Bailiff called the courtroom to order and to 'All rise' and then the judge entered the court.
"It was agreed, in my chambers, that a man has been identified. But, because of the investigation, which is still on-going, we have decided NOT to use that person's name in this trial. Defense counsel can continue with his cross-examination of the witness. Call the witness back to the stand," announced Judge Rossenburger.
Steve Stricklunds got out of his chair and approached Robert. He looked at the lad, for a few moments, then began, "We know there is, at least, one man identified in your sexual abuse. But, by my recollection, there are still as many as thirty-four men still unidentified. You told us that you weren't allowed out of your foster homes so there was no way you could even see these men out walking around. Is that Correct?"
"Yes, sir," replied Robert.
"If that is the case then, let me ask you … is it possible … that at your present foster home you MAY be able to get out and possibly see these men walking around?" coyly asked Steve Stricklunds.
"Yes … I guess, so," succinctly answered the lad.
"Do you know any of the names of these men who, you said have, sexually assaulted you?" defense counsel wanted to know.
Robert got a bit frustrated at answering with short, simple statements, so when he heard the questions he couldn't help himself and said, "I only knew the names they gave me, but I know they were false because the name didn't match the name on the credit card they used, when they took me places."
"So, you'd have this court believe there are some thirty-four men, out there, that cannot be identified unless you actually see them in person?" asked as smiling Steve Stricklunds.
"That is correct," Robert answered quickly.
"This sounds to me like this is still a great big story you made up because the ONLY way the authorities can identify these men is by your say-so. Is that about it, Robert?" Steve directed to Robert.
"I guess … but … there might be another way," offered Robert.
"I take it the police had interviewed you, numerous times, and it is ONLY now you are saying there is another way to identify these men. Why didn't you tell the authorities when they first talked to you, Robert? Isn't this just a way for you to prolong your 'fifteen minutes of fame'?" argued defense counsel.
"NO!" blasted out Robert. "When they talked to me … I … I didn't have my cigar box with me!"
Steve Stricklunds laughed out loud and then said, "Your cigar box? What is that, … your secret cache of made up names that you couldn't give the police, back then, but for some reason, now, you have this… this magical cigar box. You want this court to believe it will solve this case? Give me a break!" laughed Steve Stricklunds, some more.
"No … it's TRUE! I didn't have my cigar box until the other day, when they let me go to my old home and get some of my things," justified Robert.
"And, what was in this … this so-called magic cigar box?" Steve Stricklunds wanted to know.
"Receipts!" stated Robert.
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