Ruling in Linn County sexual abuse case will allow victim's recorded interview

In recent history the tapes haven't been allowed based on the confrontational right or hearsay rule

Trish Mehaffey
Published: January 9 2014 | 5:29 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:53 am in

A prosecutor said this week a judge's ruling to allow taped interviews to be played regarding testimony of an alleged victim in a sexual abuse case, who says she has no memory of her interviews, may be the first of it's kind in a Linn County case.

James Olds, 45, is charged with second-degree sexual abuse, lascivious acts with a child, lascivious conduct with a minor, indecent contact with a child and indecent exposure and false imprisonment. He is accused of sexually abusing a girl between the time she was 3 and 5 years of age, according to a criminal complaint and search warrant.

In 2011, the child, who was then 7-years-old,  told a forensic interviewer with the Child Protection Center in Cedar Rapids, about the sexual abuse but the trial has been reset nine times and when First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks was preparing for the Nov. 18, 2013 trial date, the girl, now 9, told him she didn't remember having the interview in 2011, according to the ruling. The girl also didn't have any memory of the "detailed various criminal acts" she related to the interviewer.

Maybanks said he will still put the girl on the stand to establish her lack of memory and the defense can cross examine her. He also told the court he planned to submit the recorded CPC interviews at trial and asked for a preliminary ruling to know if they would be admissible.

Olds challenged the tapes admissibility, claiming they would violate the defendant's right to confront the witness, according to the motion.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Robert Sosalla in his ruling said he will allow the tapes to be played because Olds had a prior opportunity to cross examine the girl at a deposition in February 2012 and the girl recalled the incidents that led to the criminal charges filed in this case. Olds will also be able to cross examine the child during trial.

Maybanks said this may be the first ruling like this involving a CPC tape because in recent history the tapes haven't been allowed based on the confrontational right or hearsay rule.

Maybanks was referring to the James Bentley sexual abuse case. According to a 2007 ruling, the CPC taped interview of 10-year-old Jetseta Gage, who told an interviewer she had been sexually abused by James Bentley, wasn't admissible because it violated his right to confront the witness. Jetseta couldn't testify because she had been kidnapped and killed by Bentley's brother, Roger Bentley, in 2005 before the Benton County sexual abuse trial made it to court in 2008.

James Bentley was convicted of sexually abusing Jetseta and sentenced to 25 years, but he was already serving a 100-year federal sentence for child pornography involving Jetseta and a 1-year-old girl. Roger Bentley is serving a life sentence for killing Jetseta.

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