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Defense begins in Sound Doctrine pastor Malcolm Fraser criminal trial

Seattle Attorney Ann Carey began to present the defense last week in the case of Malcolm Fraser, assistant pastor of Sound Doctrine Church, who has been charged with two counts of first degree child rape and two counts of first degree child molestation.

The incidents are alleged to have occurred from 2005 to 2006 when the alleged victim was 10 and 11 years old. She is currently 18. Allegations are that Fraser went into the girl’s upstairs bedroom after midnight one to three times a week when he and his wife were living with the girl’s family.

Fraser is now 40 years old.

Deputy Prosecutor Jason Simmons rested the state’s case following nearly three weeks of testimony, including three days of direct and cross examination of the young woman who made the allegations.

Judge Lori K. Smith is presiding in King County Superior Courtroom 4C at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

 

The Week

The court did not meet May 13 and reconvened May 14 with the final day of the young woman’s testimony and that of her half-sister.

The defense case began with Carey calling John Charles Yuille, a forensic psychologist from British Columbia.

Thursday the state completed the testimony of the young woman’s stepsister in the morning.

The defense then continued by calling Doris Thompson, who lived for a short time with the family in 2005. Carey followed with Josiah Williams, senior pastor at Sound Doctrine and Dr. Phillip Welch, who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology at Swedish Medical Center.

 

Direct and Cross

The cross examination and redirect of the young woman who made the allegations continued Tuesday, May 14. Dressed in a black sweater with her arms pulled tightly across her chest, she continued to speak quietly as in her earlier testimony.

Carey probed the connection between the family’s dislike of Sound Doctrine Church and how that might have influenced the young woman.

The family left the church in August of 2006. In earlier testimony the young woman’s mother said she decided she would rather “go to hell” than continue to be called an unfit mother by church leadership and have her children mistreated.

The young woman testified regarding the church leadership her mother “didn’t want to hold hands and skip through a field of jelly beans” with them.

She also testified her family is “definitely not his (Fraser’s) biggest fan.”

The young woman said through direct and cross examination she continued to be afraid of Fraser  even years later when she entered high school.

“We still lived in the same town,” she said on the stand during redirect. “He could still come to my house and still physically harm me.”

During cross examination she said she did not bring a weapon into her room or lock the door because “If I did anything to harm him or told I was afraid, something worse would happen. I feared for my life at times.”

Carey also probed the relationship between the girl and former Sound Doctrine member Athena Dean.

A cornerstone of the defense case is an attempt to prove the criminal allegations arose because of the hate and prejudice of former members toward the church. According to the defense’s opening statement,  Dean is a “seminal figure” in the trial and has come up in the testimony of many witnesses.

Carey asked the young woman if Dean was present when she went to the Enumclaw Police Department to give a statement.

The young woman said her biological father and mother took her the first time in March 2012 and her mother and stepfather the second time about a week later.

She testified that Dean was waiting for the family both times on the sidewalk outside the police department before she went inside.

She testified she did not discuss the case with Dean.

Simmons asked the young woman during redirect how she felt about Dean being there.

“I was a little annoyed,” she said. “I didn’t know her like that and she is not part of my family and I didn’t think it was any of her business to be there.”

She described Dean as her mom’s friend and that she thought Dean was there to support her mom.

“I have a hard time with her (Dean),” the young woman said.” I guess our personalities don’t mix very well.”

Carey asked about a gathering of former Sound Doctrine members at the family home at some point in 2011 or 2012. She also asked about a Thanksgiving gathering at Dean’s house around the same period.

The young woman said she arrived at the Thanksgiving dinner more than an hour late and left early. “I wasn’t really socializing at that time,” she said.

During the other gathering she said she came home from work, changed and left as soon as she could.

Under redirect she told Simmons, “I didn’t like being around all those people who left Sound Doctrine Church. I wanted to move on with my life and not hang out with a bunch of people who left. That wouldn’t help me move on.”

Carey questioned testimony that the alleged victim told her older stepsister about the abuse about two weeks before telling a her counselor. The counselor reported the allegations to Child Protective Services.

The young woman said she did not tell anyone, including the police, about the conversation with her stepsister. She said her stepsister had told her she had been sexually abused as a child.

“I didn’t (tell anyone)” she said. “That is not my business to tell.”

During redirect she testified that she did not tell her stepsister the details of the incidents concerning Fraser.

“It is not an easy thing to say out loud,” she said. “… You have to think about it and reflect on all that stuff again…. It’s very difficult.”

Her direct testimony ended with Simmons asking about her specific memory of the first time Fraser came to her room at night.

Once again her testimony became halting as she twisted and folded her handkerchief, never looking up.

I… felt like I must have done something wrong,” she said. “I must have sinned that now that was happening to me. I wondered why I was the one he chose. Maybe the color of my skin. I was one of the older girls in church.”

 

Sisters

The state placed both the older stepsister and younger half-sister on the stand to testify that the young woman had told both prior to telling her counselor or police.

The younger half-sister testified she was told about one to two years after the alleged incidents.

She said the two were sitting on the floor of the young woman’s bedroom closet talking about their parent’s divorce.

“She got emotional, all upset,” she said. “She brought out what had been going on. At first she wouldn’t explain in detail. She was resisting. She was crying really hard.”

She stated the alleged abuse came up again about two years later and she reported a third conversation.

On the stand the young woman said she had talked about it once.

Carey asked the younger half-sister why she had not told the defense team about the third conversation when deposed. She testified it was memorable now because another sister was present who had just, “been brought into the family.”

The older stepsister was recalled to the stand to complete her testimony Thursday morning. Although on the stand for less than an hour, it was emotional testimony.

She sat with her arms wrapped across her chest and cried during much of the testimony.

She told Simmons on the day in question she was sitting in the young woman’s car in front of the family home in Enumclaw. The two were involved in an “intense” conversation, she said.

Simmons asked her if she told the young woman any secrets.

“I told her I was abused when I was a child,” she said.

Simmons asked if she had ever told anyone about this and she said, “No.”

She said during the course of the conversation the young woman related what had happened to her.

“She was very closed off,” the older stepsister said. “This was not something we had talked about before.”

She said she did not tell anyone about the young woman’s secret.

“This was a mutual secret we both had and it wasn’t my business to share,” she said.

 

Forensic Psychology

The defense began Wednesday with the forensic psychologist’s testimony attacking the police interview of the young woman.

After describing his published research and expertise in memory and “issues related to particular types of crimes, sexual crimes” Carey went directly to the state’s case against Fraser.

Under direct examination by Carey, Yuille described the interview conducted by Enumclaw Det. Grant McCall of the Enumclaw Police Department.

“The quality of the interview of the complainant was very poor,” Yuille said.

Yuille said an interviewer should “have an open mind and entertain alternative explanations.”

He said an interviewer should provide the individual being interviewed with every opportunity to “provide their version of events… and avoid leading, suggestive questions.”

Yuille said, “Someone collecting DNA needs to understand DNA and someone doing an interview on memory must understand memory.”

He said the detective did not provide an “opportunity for the complainant to give a free narrative. That’s essential. There were many leading questions with the interviewer providing information.”

During cross examination Simmons asked Yuille about presenting someone a calendar and asking how many times an incident happened a number of years earlier. He said it would be an estimate and not a memory and an “inappropriate question.”

Yuille gave as an example of an estimate versus a true memory, as when husbands and wives are asked how many times they have sex.

For one of the few times during the trial laughter filled the courtroom.

Later during cross examination, Yuille said memory does not “have time stamps. I would not expect her (the young woman) to remember times.”

Yuille said under Simmons’ cross he did not know if the detective’s interview had an impact on the young woman.

Following the lunch break a transcript of the interview was read by a woman both sides had agreed upon.

Following the reading, Yuille said during cross he did not know the young woman and could not comment on her susceptibility to suggestion with leading questions. He said the possibility of suggestion was high, “but whether it did or did not (happen) I don’t know.”

He also stated he was an advocate for good investigation and “not for one side or the other.”

 

Thursday for the Defense

Carey called Doris Thompson, who is from New Jersey,  to the stand Thursday morning to testify she had stayed with the alleged victim’s family in November and December of 2005.

According to Thompson’s testimony she came to Enumclaw Nov. 17, 2005, and stayed with the family until late December, but stated she was not sure when she left.

According to Thompson’s testimony the Frasers were not living in the house at the  time.

Thompson said she came to participate in the Wineskins Conference in November 2005. During the conference she testified she “stayed someplace else during Wineskins, like a camp.”

Both the young woman and her mother testified Thompson had stayed in the family home, but were not sure of the dates.

During cross examination Thompson said she did not have her own records, but was provided records by the defense investigator, which refreshed her memory.

 

Senior Pastor

Josiah Williams, senior pastor of Sound Doctrine and executive director of WinePress Publishing, took the stand at 10:15 Thursday for the defense.

Dressed in a dark suit and relaxed for most of his testimony, he provided the jury with a different view of the church and testified to the timeline when Fraser was living with the family. The timeline when Fraser and his wife were living in the family home is another cornerstone of the defense case.

The 30-year-old Williams said he was a “very good friend” of Fraser.

Williams said he “made a commitment to Christ when I was 8 years old and since have been committed to (Christ) all my life.”

He described Sound Doctrine as a small, community Christian church.

Carey asked him if it was a cult.

Williams said it was not and the term cult was “a slur against the character of our church.”

He said to be a member of Sound Doctrine was to “love the lord your God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself.”

He stated if some came took an objective look at the church “you will see we are not a cult.”

Williams denied the church attempts to remove children from a family and testified if a child is having problems the child may be invited, with parental consent, to live in another home.

According to Williams, the issue is stability for the child.

Once again Dean and the dislike of the church leadership by former members became a large part of the testimony from Williams.

Under Carey’s direct questioning he described the split between Dean and Sound Doctrine.

“After she sold the business in April 2010, shortly after, she put in her resignation from WinePress and Sound Doctrine Church,” Williams said.

He testified there were several disputes concerning the sale of the business and taxes owed on the business.

Williams said the business was sold to Sound Doctrine for $10 with more than $300,000 owing in taxes.

He said there was also a dispute over who would pay sales taxes owed on capital gains for about $86,000.

Williams said under direct from Carey the conflict with Dean began prior to the sale of WinePress.

Under cross he said the conflict “went way beyond a business conflict.”

He recalled briefly visiting Fraser and his wife at the family home in March 2006. Williams recalled them living in another home in 2005.

Under cross by Simmons, Williams said he could not recall how many members were in the church in 2006, but estimated less than 50 after more questions from Simmons.

He also said he could not recall who was the assistant pastor prior to Fraser. During redirect he said he was not on the board of directors during that time, which is why he does not know.

The sparks flew a bit when Simmons questioned Williams about whether Fraser took Jean Hembree to Michigan to reconcile with her husband, leaving her children in Enumclaw with a church member.

Simmons asked if Fraser came back from Michigan and left Hembree there with $10.

Simmons’ asked Williams if one parent was not a member of the church, would that affect the leadership’s decision about the child.

Williams said it would not.

Simmons shot back and asked Williams why he looked at Fraser every time he was asked a question by the prosecutor.

The judge sustained Carey’s objection to strike the question before it was answered.

During direct examination, Williams said he did not recall the circumstances of the Hembree story, but he thought the father came and picked up the kids after several months.

 

Phimosis

The final witness of the week was Dr. Phillip Welch.

Welch testified he had done a forensic examination of Fraser in October 2012 at the defense’s request to confirm the diagnosis of phimosis.

Welch testified Fraser does have phimosis, which he described as a “narrowing and restriction of the foreskin over the head of the penis” in an uncircumcised man.

Welch said phimosis means the foreskin elasticity is limited and “attempting to stretch beyond the elastic limit produced pain.”

He described the condition with Fraser as congenital – that he was born with it.

He said under direct there are degrees of severity with the condition and in Fraser’s case on a scale of one to 10 as six or seven.

“There is a little bit of retraction,” Welch said. “A little bit of stretch of that rubber band, not much. The glans penis does show.”

During direct testimony, the jury was shown pictures and three videos of Fraser’s phimosis condition.

Simmons’ cross examination established Fraser was treated for phimosis while in Scotland in 1998 and did not see another physician for the condition until after he was charged. He saw a urologist in Enumclaw in July 2012.

Welch also said under cross it is possible for a man to not experience pain with phimosis, but it would be an exception.

Simmons asked Welch when he had last seen a patient with phimosis.

The doctor said during his residency, which was from 1978 to 1982. He said he had not treated anyone with phimosis since that time since the patient would go to a urologists rather than a OB-GYN who specialized in women’s reproductive health.

During cross examination, Welch said the report from Scotland did not indicate Fraser sought treatment for pain.

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