An expert witness testifying for the defense in the Jordan Johnson trial said today that Claire Francoeur, the nurse who examined the accuser on Feb. 5, 2012 at First Step Resource Center, “Did not seem to know how to do the exam.” 

Dr. Theodore Hariton, who identified himself as a forensic gynecologist, was one of two witnesses called by the defense today because their time in Missoula was limited. Hariton said he practiced gynecology and obstetrics for 44 years before retiring in 2005 to begin reviewing criminal cases that involved medical evidence, including sexual assault evidence.  

Hariton is being paid $375 an hour for the approximately 10 hours of work he is doing for the Johnson case.

Hariton said after reviewing and comparing Francoeur’s exam report to photos and videos of the exam, he didn’t see any abrasions, but did see one small laceration. Hariton also reviewed the woman’s statements about the alleged incident and police interviews pertaining to the case.

Hariton said the laceration, about 2 mm long, could have been caused in a variety of ways, and did not indicate sexual trauma.

During cross-examination, prosecuting attorney Adam Duerk asked if Hariton had ever been hired by a prosecution team to testify on behalf of a victim.

“Not once?” Duerk said.

“Not once,” Hariton said. “I’ve offered.”

Later, Johnson’s math teacher and football coach from Sheldon High School in Eugene, Ore., Scott Wright, testified on behalf of Johnson’s “unique and special character.”

Wright said he has been close with the Johnson family for many years because Johnson’s father was his teacher and coach.

“Jordan’s dad inspired me [to become a math teacher and coach],” Wright said. “The values he taught reinforced what I was taught as a kid.”

Wright said he has known Johnson since he was 4 or 5 years old. “He’s a really special person,” Wright said of Johnson. “He’s honest and a perfect gentleman. He makes everyone around him better through his quiet leadership.”

During cross-examination, Senior Deputy County Attorney Suzy Boylan asked Wright how close he has remained to Johnson since Johnson moved to Missoula.

“When you spend time with him one on one, you mostly talk about sports and fishing?” Boylan said.

“Yes,” Wright said.

Wright said he travelled to Missoula once to watch Johnson play in a football game his freshman year and tries to catch up with Johnson whenever he returns to his hometown.

Before Hariton and Wright testified, the Missoula detective who investigated the Johnson case, Connie Brueckner, returned to the stand, and the prosecution finished playing the tape of Brueckner’s first interrogation with Johnson.

The male detective on the tape said to Johnson, “Your behaviors after the incident, that to me is the most alarming part … You have a lot at stake.”

Johnson, emotional and crying, responded, “I don’t care about football today. I just want to be a normal kid.”

The detective asked if the woman’s roommate, Stephen Green, was acting odd when Johnson was leaving the house. Johnson said Green was still playing video games and didn’t seem alarmed.

“I’m not an idiot,” Johnson said. “I would have known if something is wrong. Nothing seemed weird.”

Johnson said he didn’t know why the woman would text her roommate to say she had just been raped following their sex act.

Johnson said after the alleged incident, he didn’t tell anyone he had sex with the woman because he didn’t want the girl he was interested in to find out.

Following the conclusion of the tape, Duerk concluded questioning Brueckner.

“Based on the interview,” Duerk said, “did Johnson indicate there were mixed signals [during the sex act]?”

“No.”

Duerk asked about whether there was a weight and height difference between Johnson and his accuser.

“Yes,” Brueckner said. “At the time of the interview, [the woman] was about 5-foot-8 and 127 pounds. Johnson was about 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds.”

Judge Karen Townsend called for a lunch recess. The trial is expected to resume this afternoon.

Johnson is charged with one count of sexual assault without consent, and has pleaded not guilty.

At the time of the assault, Johnson had just come off his first season as starting quarterback at UM. He was suspended from the Griz football team but was allowed to continue attending classes.

The trial is occurring while three national-level investigations into the University of Montana are ongoing. The Justice Department and Department of Education are examining the campus regarding its handling of sexual assault allegations. An NCAA investigation was initiated in January, several months before the coach and athletic director were fired. Neither the NCAA or UM officials will discuss the focus of that inquiry.

The lead up to the trial has also overlapped with the sentencing of Beau Donaldson, another former Griz football player, who pleaded guilty to rape and was sentenced last month to 30 years in prison with 20 suspended.

Judge Karen Townsend excused the jury for recess and court is scheduled to resume again Friday morning.

 

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