Sept. 10, 2017
“With no conclusive DNA evidence, medical evidence of penetration or an eyewitness to the alleged assault, both prosecution and defense relied on expert witnesses to speak to the reliability of a young child’s testimony and whether it had been tainted by outside factors, such as how her mother had pressed her about whether she was touched… and how child advocacy center staff had interviewed her….
“ ‘Did [the 6-year-old girl] lie? I don’t know, and the problem is, neither does anyone else,’ [Marine Col. Daniel] Wilson’s civilian attorney Phil Stackhouse said in a closing argument…. Stackhouse pointed out that she had twice denied to her mother being touched by Wilson before she said he had.
“A government witness, Dr. Mark Everson, an expert on childhood trauma at the University of North Carolina, had testified that 6-year-olds are remarkably resilient to suggestion, or the planting of false memories….”
– From “Jury Deliberates Over Colonel Accused of Child Sex Assault” by Hope Hodge Seck at military.com (Sept. 9)
Yes, that’s the same Mark Everson who helped persuade a jury that Bob Kelly was guilty of 99 counts of child sexual abuse.
Everson, a UNC psychologist, disputed well-accepted research that children are suggestible and should not be repeatedly interrogated by therapists. Even 10 years later, he found it hard to believe that every Little Rascals child-witness had been badly interviewed and confused: “There’s so much smoke there, it’s hard to imagine there’s no fire.”
Update: A military court at Camp Lejeune found Col. Wilson guilty of child molestation.