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Jury deliberations begin in Sound Doctrine pastor Malcolm Fraser trial
The jury began deliberations at about 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 28, in the Malcolm Fraser criminal trial at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.
Fraser has been charged with two counts of first degree child rape and two counts of molestation of a child. The charges involved a girl who was 10 and 11 years old from 2005 to 2006 living with her family in Enumclaw. She is currently 18.
The 40-year-old Fraser is an assistant pastor with the Enumclaw-based Sound Doctrine Church.
Deputy Prosecutor Jason Simmons and defense Attorney Ann Carey presented the closing arguments today.
The day began with Superior Court Judge Lori K. Smith reading court instructions to the jury, which lasted about 30 minutes.
There were about 40 spectators in courtroom 4C to observe the closings.
"It is your duty to decide the facts in this case based upon the evidence presented to you during this trial," Smith said. "Keep in mind that a charge is only an accusation. The filing of a charge is not evidence that the charge is true,"
The judge went on to instruct the jurors, "You are the sole judges of the credibility of each witness. You are also the sole judges of the value or weight to be given to the testimony of each witness."
Smith said the defendant is presumed innocent and the state "has the burden of proving each element of each crime beyond a reasonable doubt."
The State Closing
Simmons began the closing arguments for the state at about 10 a.m. He opened with a detailed account of the alleged acts Fraser is accused of committing in the young girl's family home.
"Malcolm Fraser snuck upstairs and molested this girl at the top of the stairs," Simmons said.
The deputy prosecutor said, "He chose her and for a very long time he chose correctly. (The young girl) did not say anything and so he came back again and again and again."
The prosecutor went over the testimony of the young woman's half sister and stepsister. Each said the young girl had told them about the alleged abuse prior to telling her counselor or mother.
Simmons said, "(The young girl) told her sister and at that point these emotions are something she needed to deal with. For the first time the defendant's choices caught up him."
The prosecutor said the case was not about Sound Doctrine Church.
"The only reason Sound Doctrine Church is relevant is to understand the environment she (the young girl) lived in," Simmons said.
Carey opened her closing arguments at about 10:30 a.m.
"Malcolm Fraser is innocent," Carey said in her opening statement. "Malcolm Fraser did not rape or molest (the young girl)."
She said the state has "done much to denigrate Sound Doctrine Church and Malcolm Fraser…. We all have the right to religious freedom."
Carey went over the issue brought up repeatedly by the defense that the young woman's mother and Athena Dean, a former member of the Sound Doctrine, hated the church. She said Athena Dean "seeks to destroy Sound Doctrine Church."
Carey based much of the defense on Dean's relationship with the young woman's mother and the animosity of former members toward the church.
The defense attorney said Dean and the young woman's mother had become, "fast friends."
Carey also said Enumclaw Police Department Det. Grant McCall's interview of the young woman was "absolutely terrible." She said McCall was biased against the church due to his personal religious beliefs.
Carey went over 10 reasons for reasonable doubt including there was no physical evidence, Fraser has a medical condition known as phimosis that causes pain during sexual acts.
She also said the young woman's story was "implausible."
At one point during defense closing, a member of the audience laughed, apparently in support of Carey's statement. The judge said if anyone disrupted the proceeding again the person would be removed.
The defense again underlined a basic tenant of the case concerning the timeline. The defense presented witnesses who testified that Fraser lived in the house for only six or seven weeks in the spring of 2006, considerably less time than most state witnesses testified.
Carey said there was no evidence to support Fraser lived in the family home until March or April of 2006. The family moved in mid May.
"Inconsistencies in regard to the timeline are replete in this case," Carey said.
Closing arguments ended with the state rebuttal of the defense closing argument.
Simmons went over the details of the alleged crime again as he walked across the room and pointed to Fraser, who was dressed in a dark suit with maroon shirt and tie.
"She was a child," Simmons said. "A child who did what she had to do to survive."
He called the phimosis issue raised by the defense as "bordering on ridiculous" questioning why the defense went to OB/GYN as an expert witness rather than a urologist. He also asked why Fraser had not had the condition treated in the in the late 1990s in Scotland when it was first brought to a doctor's attention.
In terms of the timeline he said, "Every witness agreed Malcolm Fraser lived with (the young girl) at least six to seven weeks."
The prosecutor said the "ultimate" defense theory is the young woman was "simply lying… making this up for the approval of her mother."
Simmons said if the charges were part of a "big conspiracy" the young woman's story would have been different and "better."
"This isn't a conspiracy," Simmons said. "The alternative is, this is simply true."
Simmons wrapped up his testimony describing the young woman as a "credible witness" and her credibility is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
"Otherwise no one would ever be held accountable for child sexual abuse."