Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her (John 8:7)”
They are like a demonic Penn & Teller. The perp, John Sparrow, sits silently, intently watching his lawyer, occasionally the jury, but mostly Jane Doe One, while his attorney, Steve Gallenson, brews black magic. He is able to psychologically torture and emotionally twist the young victim on the witness stand for hours under the guise of a quest for justice, and apparently there is nothing that can be done to stop it.
I wonder if these aggressive tactics serve his client. The jury has to notice the smug look on their faces as the young witness struggles to maintain her composure. What does he expect to find at the end of this brutal line of questioning? A tortured soul laid bare, with no recourse but to be harshly judged for having been victimized by sexual predator?
I question how and why the defense can lay a victim’s deepest and darkest secrets at the feet of the jury without consideration of the consequences, when that same jury is not allowed to know that the defendant has already been convicted of these crimes once before.
Finally, the torturous line of questioning ends. She spent a day on the stand justifying her own existence, having her past exposed like an onion, layer by layer. She was brave on the stand: her voice didn’t waver and her gaze didn’t drop. However, after she was excused and when she was finally out of eyesight of the jury she broke down in cascading waves of despair. She was so sad, seemingly broken.
I met Jane Doe One and Two before they testified. Independently, I gave them each a Polly Pin, like the one I wear on my lapel. I told them a little bit about her story, because neither of them were alive yet when Polly was murdered. I told them that as her worst fears were being realized: as the kidnapper was stealing her into the night, her last words were, “Please don’t hurt my mother and sister.” I told them that if Polly could find the courage to put others ahead of herself as she realized her worst fears, then they could find the strength to stand up to the defense attorney’s psychological Blitz Krieg. Jane Doe Two wore Polly’s pin on the stand, above her heart. Jane Doe One kept it clutched in her hand as she answered every question put to her with courage and strength. I like to think that over the course of the last two days Polly’s spirit helped them to navigate the murky waters of America’s criminal justice system.