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OR - Sunshine Bucy's child sex abuse trial brings trauma to the courtroom

Discussion in 'Crimes-Spotlight on Children' started by Missizzy, May 26, 2011.

  1. Missizzy

    Missizzy New Member

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    I didn't post a thread on this case but it has not been off my mind this week. I know this man through friends and family in our town. He's a gifted actor. He works with kids. He's a dad. He's also accused of sexually assaulting a young girl after a cast party last year. We've all been waiting for his trial.

    What happened in this trial, however, should NEVER happen again, IMO. I was totally appalled that the DAs office and the judge and the Children's Advocacy Center did not throw a hissy fit. I know I did when I read about the shenanigans pulled by the defense. A trial is traumatic for any child. They are compelled to answer the most invasive and embarrassing questions and to relive their abuse.

    I've done my time in that courtroom with a different judge and different attorneys. I know that children can be assertively questioned while still preserving their dignity. I behaved myself in our trial. However, I don't know how this mother did.

    I was pleased to see that I'm not the only one upset. Consider how you would feel if this were your 10 year old called to testify against a man who had assaulted her. The first article was before a verdict.


    http://www.dailytidings.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110520/NEWS02/105200305

    Verdict expected today on sex abuse
    Ashland actor accused of touching 10-year-old girl

    May 20, 2011

    "A Jackson County jury is expected to decide today whether an Ashland actor is guilty of a Measure 11 sex abuse crime in which he allegedly kissed and nuzzled a 10-year-old girl during a party at his home. The last day of testimony in his trial included bedroom reenactments and ended with a conflicting laundry list of affirmations for the defendant's character as well as allegations he had a pattern of making advances toward young girls.

    Sunshine Sweetwater Bucy, 38, faces a single charge of first-degree sex abuse for inappropriate and illegal contact with a 10-year-old girl. The alleged acts happened during a party..."

    and

    "...[Assistant DA, David] Orr was asking the jury to believe the child when she told her mother, and the jurors, that Bucy had kissed her on the lips, nuzzled her neck, touched her upper thigh and tried to unzip her sweatshirt on that summer's night in an upstairs bedroom at Bucy's apartment.

    Bucy's defense attorney, Peter Carini, called the girl, whom he repeatedly characterized as precocious and attention-starved, to the stand. Carini had Bucy's bed set up in the courtroom. He asked the girl to stand next to the bed and direct Carini into the position Bucy was in during the alleged abuse in an effort to discredit her....."

    and

    "....Carini also had the girl's 6-year-old brother demonstrate what he'd seen that night. And Carini repeatedly said during trial and in closing that the child's mother was unbalanced, delusional and vindictive. "The world this child lives in is the world created by her mother," Carini said...."

    more at link



    The article goes on to report that a number of young women testified about Bucy's creepiness and sexual advances. It also states that the case has gone to the jury. We learn the very next day that the jury deadlocked 6/6 and that Mr. Bucy will be retried in June. My thoughts, however, are consumed by the child's experience. Then this today:

    http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110526/NEWS/105260312

    Mattress display outrages mother, advocates
    Defense attorney says use of bed to question victim perfectly legal

    May 26, 2011


    "Setting up a bed in a Jackson County courtroom during a recent sex abuse trial involving a community theater actor and a young girl crossed the line from testimony to traumatization, said the alleged victim's mother and child advocates. "I am ashamed that such a shameless maneuver would be allowed in a court of law," said Marlene Mish, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center...."

    and

    "....Carini defends his actions as both constitutional and legally necessary to defend his client. "The Constitution says you have a right to confront your accuser, whether they are 90 years old or 3 years old," Carini said. The mother expressed shock that Circuit Court Judge Tim Barnack allowed the bed in the courtroom and compelled her child to testify while standing next to it. She also is frustrated that Deputy District Attorney David Orr did not object to Carini's questions...."

    and

    "Ashland police Detective Carrie Hull said the girl was shaking and clutching a doll to her chest during Carini's questioning. A younger sibling, a 7-year-old boy, also was questioned by Carini about the bed and what he saw that night, she said. Carini said he simply asked the child to step down from the witness box, then questioned her about specific positions she and Bucy were in during the alleged abuse while Carini laid on the bed..."

    and

    "....Carini denied that the girl, whom he characterized as attention-starved and precocious, was upset by his questions, or by the bed display. The girl's "ruse" of holding the doll to her chest was an "act," he said. Carini blames the mother, whom he described during the trial as vindictive and mentally ill, for fostering the girl's allegations...."

    more at link


    Am I the only one having trouble with my blood pressure after reading about this travesty? I'm at least pleased that the DAs office initially objected but he seemed to not interrupt any of the questioning. I'm also appalled that the defamation of the child and her mother occurred while she was present. She's 10 years old!! How in the heck is her mother going to get her back into that courtroom next month?

    I can't imagine how I would have reacted if our family's back patio, the neighbor's chicken coop or the school bathroom radiator would have been recreated in the courtroom 12 years ago when my children testified. Actually, that's not true as yes I can.

    Now is it clear why so many children don't report and why many parents refuse to allow their children to testify? I am NOT happy with Judge Barnack.
     
  2. Missizzy

    Missizzy New Member

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    From the last link:

    ".....(We ask a child to) walk into a courtroom full of strangers, see the person that (allegedly) hurt them and speak of things that are terrible, shameful or scary," [CAC Director, Marlene] Mish said. "To drag a mattress into a court of law and ask a 10-year-old child to leave a witness stand and show the world what happened is worse, in my opinion, than the alleged offense itself," Mish said.

    "Years from now this child may not remember, or may have recovered from, what may or may not have happened to her. But I promise you she will never forget a mattress being brought into a court of law, and the system traumatizing her again."

    Carini said he did not violate the law, his ethics or his conscience. He believes in his client's innocence and plans to bring the bed back to the courtroom for Bucy's second trial......"

    more at link (the article is by subscription but you can sign up to read it for free)
     
  3. Filly

    Filly KICKING AND SHINING

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    Oh this poor little girl. How did I miss this?

    Dear Lord they set up the very scene in a room full of people where the most awful thing that has ever happened to her occured. Not to mention her poor brother.

    Holding a doll to your chest is a ruse? An act? Really? Yeah all little kids that are "attention starved" make up that some freaky adult assaulted them. Don't they?

    Lord knows I am an adult and if today I had to go into a courtroom and be directed to point out a tree at a lake next to the cooler with the blue lid where I was assaulted I believe I would vomit. To this day when I see a kid hide their eyes and count for hide and seek I shudder. Just the counting with the "Ready or not" verse takes me back and I get physically sick. I can in no way imagine how this little girl could have gotten through that travesty.
     
  4. tlcya

    tlcya Well-Known Member

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    That is a travesty and never should have been allowed to take place. Disgusting.
     
  5. badhorsie

    badhorsie Mouth operational, brain elsewhere...

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    This sounds so unacceptable, surely the court are guilty of child abuse to enable this to happen. That little girl and her brother will be scarred by this experience.
    Unbelieveable:sick:
     
  6. LadyL

    LadyL Well-Known Member

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    wow

    I'm stunned that the judge allowed this.
     
  7. Missizzy

    Missizzy New Member

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    I've written to everyone I can think of and talked to a friend who knows case law. One point which came up is this:

    "The attorney should be required to cite case law in which this has been permitted in the past with a child witness. If there is a citation, was it upheld/verified by a higher court to be an approved practice? If so, why doesn't it occur more often?

    The confrontation clause of the constitution allows the accused to be present with his accuser at trial and for his/her lawyer to CROSS EXAMINE the accuser but nowhere is there a clause allowing for permanent traumatization of two very young children."

    My friend and I agreed that it's questionable about whether the child can be convinced to return to the courtroom. And she should not be judged unfairly if she can't do it. She disclosed this abuse months ago and has been struggling ever since. She's a brave girl and I think the other testimony is quite telling about this man's past behavior.

    I just cannot get over the demeaning comments about the child. That seems outrageous and I feel very strongly that the Assistant DA nor the judge really did all they could to protect her.

    And Filly, you make my heart bleed. I know what you mean. If they would have drug our play structure fort, the neighbors' bird coop or the school bathroom radiator into the courtroom during our trial, I think I would have hit the floor....about 2 seconds after the children.
     
  8. 2goldfish

    2goldfish Active Member

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    I also cant believe the judge allowed it. how dare they traumatise the girl (and her brother!) further? how heartless can they be?
     
  9. mysteriew

    mysteriew A diamond in process

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    You might also check under the rape shield laws. There are a lot of things that attorneys used to do with rape victims that they are no longer supposed to do. Even though it doesn't look like she was raped, they might apply as an attempt.

    I am trying to imagine myself as a ten year old. At ten your focus is your friends, your bike, your interest toys and activities. If she was at a cast party, I am thinking maybe she was in the cast? So she has this exciting opportunity to act, which is nerve wracking and exciting. Then she gets to go to a real 'cast party' which makes her feel grown up.

    Then at the party this guy gets her into a room, and makes her feel uncomfortable. Talking to police and telling them her embarrassing story would be bad enough. And all the time it takes up from her playtime. Then she has to get up in court and tell this embarrassing story of what happened to her. First the DA asks her questions, then the defense attorney starts in on her.

    Then they make her get up out of her chair, walk over to the bed she recognizes, in front of all those strangers, and reenact what happened. So while she is reliving/remembering the defense attorney makes disparaging remarks, and talks to her like she is making this up.

    Oh yeah mr defense attorney, I can see where this wouldn't traumatize her. I can see where a 10 year old child should be perfectly capable of this. Not! It sounds to me like in this case the reenactment might have been even more traumatizing than what actually happened. He ought to be disbarred. And CPS/LE might want to check to see what his relationship is to children around him. He seems to believe that 10 year old little girls are more sexually aware and capable than what is generally believed.
     
  10. kileyizzle

    kileyizzle ♥ we have but two lives. The life we learn with, &

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    So... Is the person that allowed this to take place going to be held accountable, or is this just another thing we are going to have to just "be okay" with?

    Honestly, this is just... BAH...
     
  11. 209maryb

    209maryb New Member

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    Thanks for your research and opinions on the practice of "recreating" the abuse scenario being disgusting and horrific for the child involved. These support my and my daughter's feelings regarding the Bucy trial.

    Not only does the 10-year-old (!!!) victim have to recreate the scene on the mattress (using Carini as a model!), (do adult rape victims have to do this?) but then to have her mental state decried and her terrified behavior dismissed as "an act," is abuse. And Carini's claims go unproven: Who made him an authority on the mental health and veracity of a mother, a 10-year-old girl, and her brother? A child of 10 is also sworn in to tell the truth, is she not? As well as her 6-or-7-year-old brother? And the mother, who testified that she actually WALKED IN on Bucy and the girl in that room WHILE they were on the bed together? And now this brave little girl must do this harrowing trial business all over again. BTW, my daughter testified as a witness for the prosecution; she was at the party where this situation occurred and has knowledge of Bucy's previous attempts to assault other girl-ish looking females, one underage, BTW. She was also traumatized by being only one of two witnesses for the prosecution who had to testify against 33 character witnesses FOR Bucy, (her friends, former teachers, mentors, co-workers, and fellow actors)...and she's 21! But she and I know: in the fight for justice in this matter, if she is called to testify again, she will testify again. She must, for the little girl's sake.

    My question is: where are all the people at the party who saw Bucy behave poorly even before he took that girl up to his room? Why didn't they testify, too? Why does Bucy have 33 "character witnesses," whose good opinions of Bucy seem to clash with actual events? How can a jury possibly "buy" Carini's constant accusations of "mental illness" or "craziness" against women, girls, and children who have a different story from his client?
     
  12. Missizzy

    Missizzy New Member

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    Welcome Maryb--I've been rattled by this case ever since it broke and I'm local. I've been in that courtroom for a rape trial involving children. Most would be shocked at what the rape shield laws do NOT cover. Most people do not realize that when a child discloses abuse, every tiny detail about their past behavior will be admissible in court. And yet, very little information about the rapist will be permitted. In my trial, however, the defense attorney was far more "outwardly" cautious and caring of my children. I think the judge would have had her for lunch had she not been.

    I was pleased to read that the DA's office at least attempted to prevent this mess through an objection in chambers but I'm shocked that the judge allowed it....and especially that he allowed it to continue with a child who was visibly upset. I wonder if the Assistant DA continued to object as the child became more and more upset? Typically judges call for a recess in such situations and reassess before continuing. And I'm very concerned about the comments about the mother's mental health and the child's attention seeking behavior. I agree, who made Mr. Carini an expert on these issues? Were expert witnesses called to testify to such? And were these comments made with the child present? That would be unforgivable, IMO. I am once again gob-smacked that the judge would allow this.

    There's no getting around the fact that sexual assault/rape trials are brutal on all involved. My fear, though, is that this message will filter down through our community and cause other children who encounter similar inappropriate and illegal behavior to not disclose or for their parents to not be supportive of those disclosures. And that would be a terrible shame.
     
  13. tiredblondy

    tiredblondy New Member

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    Does the child need her own lawyer??? Would that help? This is ridiculous...Who can I write. I will in a heartbeat!
     
  14. Missizzy

    Missizzy New Member

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    The child has her own lawyer...the DA of the state of Oregon. If you want to write I would suggest the Jackson County District Attorney's office. The District Attorney is Mark Huddleston. Here's a link:

    http://www.co.jackson.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=249

    I would also cc any emails or letters to the Children's Advocacy Center here:

    http://www.cacjc.org/

    Marlene Mish is the Executive Director and has already gone on record with her disgust about the court proceedings:

    http://www.cacjc.org/staff.html

    Both sites have contact information. I won't name names, but the CAC is the agency which assisted our family throughout the entire trial process--all 9 years of it. There are many faces at the link above who make me smile. Those are the people who fought like heck for our kids and to help our family live through the ordeal.


    And an update:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-n...ford_on_accusation_of_sex_abuse_at_party.html

    Community theater actor faces second trial in Medford on accusation of sex abuse at party
    June 7, 2011

    "....Bucy has consistently maintained his innocence. His new defense attorney, Jeni Feinberg, will represent him at a pretrial hearing scheduled July 18...."

    More at link

    Ms. Feinberg is an excellent and highly repsected defense attorney. She's brutal but I find her to be far more appropriate with working with children on the stand. She assisted the defense in our case. I wonder why Bucy changed attorneys??? Hmmm. Personally, I'm hoping that a different Assistant DA and judge handle the case.
     
  15. Missizzy

    Missizzy New Member

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    Seems like not many were happy with the shenanigans in court:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-n...ford_on_accusation_of_sex_abuse_at_party.html

    Community theater actor faces second trial in Medford on accusation of sex abuse at party

    "....38-year-old Sunshine Sweetwater Bucy will get a new judge and a new defense attorney at the second trial..."

    more at link



    And I just got some appalling news from my daughter who lives in town. We have a free monthly newspaper, The Sneak Preview, that is sent to local homes and is available on newsstands. It covers restaurant reviews and has a good calendar of events of interest to both locals and tourists. Once in a while, though, the editor will cover a divisive local event. That happened today. Here's what my daughter said (I don't have a copy yet...I will...but it's not available online):

    "If you value your blood pressure, don't read the Sneak Preview! It's outdone itself this time about the Sunshine Bucy trial. Yikes! Whether or not Sunshine is guilty (and it is possible at this point that he may not be...innocent until proven...etc.) Hayden has done what amounts to a smear job on the mom and daughter. Wow! Even if the mom is making all of this up (though I have my doubts), Hayden has also smeared the little girl...who he doesn't name, but names her mother! Even if that child had been manipulated into lying about what happened, she would still be a victim of adult machinations and deserve to be protected from publicity. Inappropriate and infuriating...."

    I am shocked that this could happen. Why this tremendous rancor towards a child? For heaven's sakes, she's 10 years old. My guess is that she's wondering why she ever reported the incident. I'd be willing to bet that she isn't so forthcoming if there's ever a next time. What a message to send to a little girl. I called the DA's office and left a message. Of course, I had to learn of this at 4:50 on a Friday afternoon. This is plainly not right.

    If the family happens to find our thread, I'm very hopeful that they will contact Crime Victims United of Oregon. Best phone call I ever made.
     
  16. carrie

    carrie Member

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    Welcome to WS maryb. Sorry for what your daughter has had to deal with in this case. Good for her for sticking with it.

    What that lawyer did to that little girl is awful and should be illegal.
     
  17. Belinda

    Belinda Doer of Things

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    Words utterly fail me. The court itself turned around and re-victimized the victim. I am horrified by this story. Why has this judge not been censured for allowing this? It makes me wonder if the judge and the defendant have some connection. Something stinks here. Okay, words didn't totally fail me.
     
  18. Missizzy

    Missizzy New Member

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    You're back!!!!! So good to see you posting on here.

    I'm anxiously awaiting my copy of the Sneak Preview to see for myself what was said about this child. Absolutely nasty. This is not what I expect from my county's justice system nor media.
     
  19. Missizzy

    Missizzy New Member

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    I read the June Sneak Preview (local paper) story on this case and was literally upset for weeks. I'm still not over it. No further comment. I finally found it on line. Everyone can see what they think of this sort of journalism:

    http://roguerambler.com/live/curts-blog/83-sunshine-bucy-story

    Jury Doesn't Fall for D.A.'s Claim of Sexual Molesting
     
  20. pinkfly

    pinkfly Well-Known Member

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    This is a travesty and it points out the while our system has come a long way there are still those who are able to manipulate and wreck havoc on the whole judicial system.
     

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