CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Passages (from the prosecution and the defense) dealing with the testimony of Kyle, the three year-old child whose behaviors and story of sexual abuse became a catalyst in the Little Rascals case

Ms. LAMB (for the prosecution):   This is Kyle. Kyle testified on August 22. He was five years old at the time he testified. And at the time the offenses occurred, he was about three years old.

First, Mr. Bob, Bob Kelly, is charged with first degree sexual offense and indecent liberties with Kyle The act: Kyle said "Mr. Bob put his finger up his butt." ...

Then this was Kyle's testimony on August 22, 1991, about what happened to him. ...

Now, what did Kyle testify to when he was here before you? He was asked whether he remember Mr. Bob doing certain things. And he said he remember Mr. Bob putting his finger up his butt. And Audrey testified that Kyle told her that Mr. Bob stuck his finger in my butt. That's what they testified to in the courtroom. So let's look back now to the time that he actually told it to Audrey and to Officer Toppin. And that's what this is for -- other, I call it, corroborating testimony which supports this charge that Kyle -- that Mr. Bob stuck his finger in Kyle's butt. These are some interesting things that were happening with Kyle back in the fall of 1988 when he was going to Little Rascals when these things were alleged to have happened to him. What did he say between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 1988? "Mommy, stick your finger in my butt. Just do it." One night when he was getting in the bathtub. This was back during the time we contend to you that it was actually happening to him at Little Rascals. Is that a normal kind of natural thing for a child to say to their mother? "Mommy, stick your finger in my butt." Have you ever heard any of your children or grandchildren say that to you? "Just do it," he said. Caught her by surprise.

She said, "Kyle, we don't do those kinds of things." And then she looked at his rectum area and it was red and it was swollen. And of course, they say, "Well, why didn't you do something about that?" Because it went away and it came back again, and then it went away again, and then it came back again. So when she treated it, it went away. What else did she notice that fall of '88? A couple of times she testified that she saw blood in his bowel movement. And she testified that she talked to Doctor Chris Perry about that. And he said, "Well, if it keeps going, then come to my office. But if it doesn't, it's probably nothing to worry about." That's what she testified Doctor Perry said. Then what else happened during that fall with Kyle? Kyle was caught masturbating by his mother. She said, "Kyle, what are you doing?" He said, "I'm playing doctor." She said, "How do you play doctor?" And he said, "You stick something in your butt." Now, is that how children play doctor? Do you know kids who play doctor like that by sticking stuff in their butt? Or do know kids that play doctor with their little doctor kit and their little stethoscope and they pretend to give shots? Things that they've experienced themselves at the doctor is how they play doctor.

Well, this is how Kyle had experienced playing doctor by having something stuck in his butt. Then on January 17, 1989, Audrey talked to Kyle. But he said, "Mr. Bob plays doctor at nap time." Again she says, "Well, how do you play doctor?" "You stick something in your butt." And then she took him to the Children's Clinic on February 3, 1989. And Doctor Coleman did observe some burst blood vessels and she says that it's no way to tell one way or the other what caused that. But it's more corroborating evidence about Kyle. If he was having something stuck in his butt, then the logical inference is that the burst blood vessels were caused by Mr. Bob's act.

Then, remember this testimony? "Do you remember playing doctor?" he was asked. "Yes. With who?" "Mr. Bob." "How do you play?" This is cross-examination now. "He hurted me. He stuck his finger in my butt." "Did you ever play that game with Jim?" "No." Now, remember there was an issue about that when his momma talked to him. "Do you play doctor with Jim?" "Yeah." But he never said Jim was sticking stuff in his butt. Just that he played Doctor with Jim. Then when he's in the courtroom and they ask him about that "Did you ever play that game, doctor, with Jim?" "No." He said Jim was his friend and they played cop, cowboy, and army.

So let's look for a minute at Kyle's case and how it developed. Back in December of 1988, around the 10th of December, Audrey Stever testified that Kyle didn't like day care anymore and that she talked to her friend, Brenda Toppin, about that. And she talked to Betsy Kelly about that around the 10th of December. "Oh, he's fine. Don't worry. He's normal. He's okay here." And she was blaming it on her increased activity around the "Nutcracker" ballet. Maybe it's not spending enough time with him, maybe that's why he doesn't like day care. And then on January -- that was in December. But he didn't get better, it kept getting worse, that is, his behavior.

And then in January, January 13, 1989, we have a conversation between Audry and Jane Mabry. Jane Mabry again, where Jane tells Audrey that Joel was slapped by Bob. But now we know that Jane didn't take Joel out of day care right away and she left her other son in there too. She wasn't thinking sexual abuse when it happened either. And then Audrey noted also at that time that Kyle's symptoms were worse, they weren't better and "Nutcracker" was over so he should be okay. She was back home now spending time. So she talked to Brenda Toppin and Brenda told her, "Well, if you really want to know what happened, ask some "W" questions: who, what, why, when, where, and how."

And then on January 14 that's what Audrey did. She asked Kyle, "Who's your favorite person at day care?" And he said, "Shelly." And she said, "Is there anybody there you don't like?" And he said, "Yes." She said, "Are they big or little?" And he said, "Big." And she said, "Who?" And he said, "Mr. Bob." And she said, "Why don't you like him?" And he says, "I can't tell you. He doesn't do it anymore." Partial disclosure. He wants to tell so bad. He really does. He wants to tell his mother but he can't because he's been threatened. We don't know that yet. "I can't tell you. He doesn't do it anymore." And Audrey says, "Well, this thing he doesn't do anymore, does he do it at lunch or at snack, or on the playground?" And Kyle interrupts her and says, "Naptime." Naptime. We heard a lot of testimony about what went on at that day care at nap time. And he interrupted her. She hadn't even named nap time. And she said, "What? What does he do at nap time." "He doesn't do it anymore."

Then on January 17, Audrey talked to Brenda Toppin and she -- there was some concern. Brenda said -- ah, Audrey said, "You don't think it's sexual abuse, do you, or anything like that?" She said, "No, it's probably not. But maybe you should talk to Kyle some more." So she did. And she said to him, "You need to tell me what Mr. Bob did at nap time that made you sad." She's not asking a question like did Mr. Bob touch your penis? She's asking him you need to tell me what Mr. Bob did at nap time that makes you sad? And he said again, "He doesn't do it anymore." So she did ask him does Mr. Bob ever touch your private parts? He says, "Not me. He does it to the other boys, not me." "What does he do to the others?" "He plays doctor." He comes right back to what he was doing in the fall of '88. "How do you play doctor?" "You stick something in your butt." Coming back again to what we saw happening in November of 1988.

Then on January 21 -- then Audrey goes to the Department of Social Services and reports it. And then on January 21 -- that's what I have up here about Officer Toppin's testimony. She did an interview with Kyle. And he was fine until the subject turned to Little Rascals, she testified. And then she turned the subject to Little Rascals and he talked about Mr. Bob playing doctor. "He doesn't do it anymore." She says, "Can you show me with the dolls how Mr. Bob plays doctor?" But she just had the dolls there. He of his on volition takes the boy doll from the bag, pulls down the pants and the underwear and sticks his finger in the doll's anus. And she says, "Is this what happens when Mr. Bob plays doctor?" And he said "Yes." Then he showed on himself how that happened.

And then on April 10, Kyle wants to go talk to Officer Toppin and tell her some more things. He's feeling safer now to tell things. "Anything else you want to tell me?" she says, after he's told her a series of events. And he's telling her some things about what was put in his butt. And she says, "Did Mr. Bob put anything else in your hiney?" And he says, "His finger."

So this, ladies and gentlemen, is evidence of first degree sex offense being committed on Kyle Stever, of the defendant taking indecent liberties with him by putting his finger in Kyle's butt? And you think, well, why is there no physical evidence of that? This is another myth of child abuse. So common. If all of these things are going on, why aren't we seeing evidence of it physically? And you've heard evidence from experts about that. About the ability of the anus to heal and what it's made for in the first place. And a sex offense only requires penetration however slight. Penetration however slight. That doesn't mean that Bob had to ram his finger all the way up his rectum. And Bob knew that. He didn't know what the law is, I'm saying. But he knew that if he was going to physically damage these children that there would be signs of it and he couldn't keep doing it. So he wasn't out to tear them apart physically because he wanted to keep on molesting them.

And again he tells Brenda Toppin on April 7, 1989, when he wants to go to the police department and tell her some things that happened, he was telling her where he had to put his ding-dong. And she said, "Well, did Mr. Bob make you -- did Mr. Bob put his ding-dong anywhere else?" And he pointed to his open mouth. And then on April 10 he told her again. And this was Kyle wanting to go and tell her some things that had happened with him at the day care.

Then again this was raised in cross-examination. Kyle was asked about having to suck on Bob's ding-dong. They asked him, "Well, where were you?" He said, "At the day care." True. He was at the day care. "Who was there?" "I don't remember." Do you think he's going to remember who else was there when he's having to suck Bob Kelly's penis. Think about what was in his mind at that I moment when he was being made to do this to this 43 year- old man. ....

So what we're looking for again is a coherent package that's consistent. And under cross-examination as to this incident about being made to suck on Mr. Bob's ding-dong, he was asked, "Well, what did you do?" He says, "I told him to stop." How helpless these children must have felt--powerless, helpless. "I told him to stop, but he didn't stop." And he never denied this act during cross-examination, did he? He never said it did not happen. And I -- believe me, you would have heard it if he had.

Now, what else did we learn about Kyle that corroborates this testimony, this testimony that he gave; that corroborates what he said was happening to him at the time it did happen? Would you look at his behavior, behavior changes? And observations that were occurring before Jamie ever uttered the first word about being touched by the defendant, Bob Kelly. Changes that were occurring at the time the defendant was touching him and molesting him between September 30, 1988 and December 31, 1988. And with Kyle, these changes were observed not only by his family but with people outside the family. And look at all this. And it's very important to consider these behaviors.

What did Mark Everson, Doctor Smith, Doctor Runyan, Doctor Fredrickson, what did they all say about behaviors of children who are sexually abused. They said that they don't prove abuse. That's right. Doctor Jean Smith said there are red flags that help give you a consistent picture if the child says he's being abused. They give a consistent picture about the abuse. And she listed off some of the ones that she commonly sees in children that she works with who are sexually abused. She talked about nightmares, anxiety and agitation, aggression towards family members or peers, being afraid of certain particular individuals or groups of individuals like men, regressive behavior such as a child being potty-trained and then all of a sudden wetting. Language may become infantile, baby talk especially when talking about the sensitive area, the abuse. A child may not be comfortable in his own room or want to be in the room at all and would constantly check back with his parents. And we've heard numerous testimony about the children and the sleep problems they were having at that time. "Children who have been sexually abused," she said, "can't get back to their own room or sleep alone even with -- often with reassurance." And what did Doctor Everson say what to look for? A coherent package that's consistent. You look at the behavior and what the child says. He talked about the behaviors also. He talked about sexual acting out, coaxing sexual behavior, masturbation, fears, and anxieties. New fears that come up that aren't developmentally appropriate for a child that age, such as a fear of men or a particular man, changes in their personality caused by stress like regressive behavior, bed wetting, clinginess, thumb sucking. And as I name these, I hope that you are sitting there remembering how many of these children so far have had these kinds of behaviors.

So when you're looking at the behaviors you look at what the child says. Is what the child is saying traumatic --- a behavior that they're exhibiting that of a traumatic child? So let's look at Kyle. Now, with Kyle, we've got a range of behaviors that were observed with him. It started at the time, we contend, that he was being abused in October 1988. He complained of stomachaches on Little Rascals days. He would ask to go to the studio or stay home with [his babysitter] Rosa.

... And once he got to Little Rascals, he would cry when he got there and would refuse to get out of the car. And sometimes he would be physically sick on Little Rascals days. And again she's attributing it to her increased busyness with the "Nutcracker." But then it didn't go away. And she did become concerned and tried to do something about it in January 1989.

He became aggressive in hitting. He began to use the word "hate." And what kind of child did she say Kyle was before this ever began to happen? She said he was a sweet, quiet, loving kind of little boy, who she and he got along well, no problems. And then all of sudden he becomes aggressive and starts using the word "hate." A word she says they don't -- try not to use in the home. He showed anger towards her. Something that he had never done before.

He had sleep problems, nightmares. He began to sleep with his parents when he had been a good sleeper. He slept in his own room since he was a year old, his mother testified. He began to be afraid of his own room, thought there were monsters and witches. He wet the bed at night, three to four times a week, and he had been potty trained when he was a few days before two years old. ...

He also was caught, as we've heard earlier, masturbating. ... He complained about his bottom hurting. And we talked about that already. And she told Brenda Toppin of these observations in February of 1989.

Now, what did other people besides the Stevers see with regard to Kyle? Independent observers. ... First of all, we got Dawn Swain who babysat him in 1989. We have the sexual play. He's talking about playing a boyfriend/girlfriend game. And she says, "Well, how do you play boyfriend/girlfriend? And he says, "You kiss and take off your clothes." Now is that the way children play boyfriend and girlfriend? How would he know that if it hadn't happened to him? She says, "Where did you learn that? Or how do know about that?" He says, "Mr. Bob did it at Little Rascals." He said when he would kiss her, he would try to stick his tongue in her mouth. He would put his lips on hers and move his head back and forth like an adult kind of kissing.

And who else was an independent observer? Miss Mitchener. She was our last witness, the Vietnamese lady who runs Little Friends preschool. ... And remember the two incidents she testified to regarding the defendant, Bob Kelly, which are very telling, I argue to you. In November one day, he comes in walking real slow -- and remember she demonstrated how he was walking and his face and eyes were red like he had been crying -- and he went to the bathroom and he stayed in there forever. And she went in to see if he needed some help, and she saw that his penis and the balls -- his balls were red and raw. And she gave him some cream. And she testified that Bob Kelly brought him to Little Friends that day.

Now, in December she witnessed another incident with Kyle. ... What happened that day is that the defendant came to pick up the children and take them back to Little Rascals. And what she testified to was that Jamie heard his voice, hadn't even seen him yet, but heard his voice and had this kind of reaction. He was screaming and shaking in fear. He clung to her leg and said, "I don't want to go. I don't want to go." And what does that tell you about Jamie's feelings about Little Rascals? It's pretty descriptive and graphic, isn't it? So much so that she called the Stevers that night about it because she was so disturbed about it, she said, because she had never seen a child act that way ever in the nine years of experience as a preschool teacher. Never had she seen a child behave that way, where the child was screaming, shaking, clinging to her leg. So she called Mr. Stever and talked to Mark. And he said, "Well, we're busy with the "Nutcracker" so maybe that's all it is. But that wasn't all it was, was it? But Mark didn't know that at the time. It doesn't make sense that because his parents are busy with the "Nutcracker" that he's clinging, shaking screaming, saying that he doesn't want to go to Little Rascals. It just doesn't make sense. What makes sense though is what Bob was doing to him. That's why he didn't want to go to Little Rascals.

So what you have with Kyle with all these behaviors and what he said, it was more than a blip, wasn't it? It was more than a phase. It was caused, we argue to you, by nobody other than Bob Kelly.

So the explanation the defense is trying to get you to buy with Kyle Stever is that all these changes were caused by his family's involvement with the "Nutcracker" ballet or that they were caused by the baby-sitter named Rosa. It just doesn't make sense. They fit the picture of a traumatized child. And Kyle would certainly be traumatized, wouldn't he, by having to touch the defendant's penis, to suck his penis, and by having the defendant put his finger in his butt. Which is what Kyle said happened to him. Those are the three things we are concerned about with Kyle. Those things happened at the hands of this man who had been entrusted to care of care for their son. ....

MR. SPIVEY (for the defense)   [Kyle] had started attending the day care because his mother said that she wanted to socialize, and she wanted him to have kids to play with; that he had been staying at home with Rosa Valentine before that. He was very happy with Rosa. He liked Rosa. They got along well. But she felt like he needed to be around other kids to play, and that's why he went to Little Rascals.

Now, it was some time during this time period that the playing doctor with Jim Boyce incident occurred. And we don't have an exact date of when that happened. But what we know from the testimony is that at some point in time, ah, Mrs. Stever came in to her child's room and he was lying on the floor -- and depending on which version of it occurred, he either was fondling himself or was touching himself or masturbating -- and she asked him what was he was doing at that time. And what you've been told is that he said that he was playing doctor. And she asked him some questions about that. "What do you mean you're playing doctor?" "And how do you play doctor?" And her testimony was that his response was "you stick something in your butt." And she then asked him, "where did you learn that?" And he told her about Jim Boyce, who is the little neighbor boy.

Now, a problem there arises with the playing doctor story is that it's been told several different ways, depending on which version of it you get from which record. ...

Now, if you look at what the Social Services report says on that interview, you recall Doctor Raskin had examined the Social Services' report. And the version of it given in there was that what the child said was the same thing about playing with Jim Boyce. But it was not sticking something in your butt. It was "you look in your hiney", which is a much different statement.

Now, either statement, you don't know what it means particularly since it's linking to some incident or something with Jim Boyce. This is something that was never pursued in the investigation. You know, it's very difficult to understand why not. You would think with this kind of report, one of the very first things an investigator would want to do is "let's go talk to, you know, Jim and let's talk to Jim's parents. Let's talk to Jamie about this issue and find out what this means." Did the child say, "You stick something in your butt?" Did the child say, "You look in your hiney?" Is this something that occurred in some game between Jim and this child? Is it something that occurred between Jamie and some other person and he's just saying it's Jim? We don't know.

Now, this is where this case should have started in terms of investigation. And yet the primary investigator, the only investigator who testified in this case, doesn't even mention Jim Boyce until a year later. It makes a big difference because this is one of the things that Audrey Stever will look back on later and say he must have meant sexual abuse.

Now, the other thing that happened during this time period -- and this is a little more difficult to try to fix the dates on -- was Mrs. Mitchener telephoned both -- she talked with, ah, Audrey Stever on one occasion, she talked with Mark on one occasion and she talked with Mrs. Toppin twice about Jamie during this time period. ...

Now, the incidents that she talked about at that time -- were two that she testified about. One was an incident where she said that Mr. Kelly came in in the morning to Little Friends with Kyle, had him by the hand, was her testimony, and was walking him in and that Kyle was in a lot of pain and really limping -- and a very graphic description of Mr. Kelly bringing this little three, four-year-old child into her preschool in obvious distress. She said that when the child went to the bathroom later on that morning, he didn't come out right away or was having some problem and she went in and checked on him and she observed at that time his genitals were very red, very raw. She thought at the time, she said, it might be a problem with detergent. The mother changed detergent or something like that and it bothered the child and he was in obvious distress. So she called and talked to Mark Stever about that because she called at night, ah, Mrs. Stever wasn't home. She spoke to Mark and about two weeks later Mrs. Stever called her back, and at the time she called Mark, he apologized to her and said "we hope it won't be a repeated problem", something like that. I'm not real clear on why Mr. Stever was apologizing to Mrs. Mitchener at that time. The whole context of the thing is something that I don't see what you would have to apologize about it. The whole conversation is unclear as to exactly what was going on.

The second story she said, about 7 a month later that Mr. Kelly came and picked Kyle up at day care and that that's the occasion when Kyle, ah, did not want to go with Mr. Kelly. He was very upset. She said, "you have never seen such fear in a child's eyes. It was really horrible." Obviously, he didn't want to go anywhere with Mr. Kelly. In one of the versions that was told, he said something about he did not -- please don't tell his mother that he didn't like the day care, didn't like Mr. Bob, didn't want to go back there. Something to that effect. Now, in going back and looking at those stories they're interesting for two reasons: First, Mrs. Stever clearly testified that she always took Kyle to Little Friends. Kyle did not go to Little Rascals in the morning and then go to Little Friends ever. That's what his mother says.

... So something's wrong with the story. We have no way of knowing what it is. Mrs. Mitchener may be mistaken as to who brought the child in. It could have been the child's father. It could have been the child's mother. It could have been some other person. We don't know. She may have gotten this child confused with another child. ... But the fact is Mr. Kelly could not have been the one that appeared at the day care -- at Little Friends in the morning with this child because this child was with his mother in the morning.

Now, the other incident that -- where Mr. Kelly is supposed to have picked the child up and he was afraid. Now, that is the incident when with Miss Mitchener -- when Mr. Kelly picked the child up that she called Brenda Toppin and reported it for some reason. ... Now, there's nothing wrong with that at all. And certainly, if a preschool teacher or anyone else observes something about a child that raises some concern he needs to report it to the proper person, whether it's the parent or the police or whatever. But these incidents tell you a lot about what attitudes were later on. Because it's not long after this, in December, that there's the first conversation that occurs between Miss Toppin and Miss Stever about Kyle.

Now, both of them characterize that conversation as a very casual, ah, meeting between the two of them. That at that point in time, ah, there was no concern about abuse. That wasn't an issue in Mrs. Stever mind at that time. She just, ah, said she ran into Brenda Toppin. And she said, ah, "Kyle's not happy at day care. He's been having some problems. What should I do about it?" Something to that effect. Both of them said that it was very casual, nothing to be concerned about at that time...

I mean if you're a police officer and you want red flags raised, you got a lady calling you up and saying this child was brought in in pain, they had red irritated genitals, they don't like this man, they show there's deathly fear of him; then your conversation is going to be anything but casual later on when the mother of that child comes to you and says, "I'm real worried about the child. He doesn't want to attend this day care", which is the same day care Miss Mitchener is calling and complaining about it. So it's difficult to understand why they're trying to portray that there's ... no concern of abuse.

Now, Mrs. Kyle talked a lot of about Kyle's behaviors and how unhappy he was at the day care and how much he didn't like the day care. He didn't want to be there. He begged to stay home with Rosa. He would say he had the stomachache. He didn't want to go to day care. He hated it. Now, those are her reconstructions. She started keeping her diary in February of 1989. You recall she became convinced abuse had occurred some time back in January and she started writing her recollections in February.

Now, her interest at that point is very obvious. She's made her mind up that her child has been abused. She's made her mind up that Mr. Kelly did it. And now she's going to write down what happened that proves it. And she makes her records of the playing doctor incident; she makes her records of the incident where Mr. Kelly, ah, picked the child up. She made no record and no mention in her testimony about the call from Ginette Mitchener concerning the irritated genital area, which is odd, because you would think that would be one of the more striking things that you would want to write down if you're going to accuse somebody of abuse. Now, the only reason that occurs to me that she not record that is because it's very difficult to say that you're being calm and casual and you don't have any suspicions up here if you've got that kind of report back here.

On Fridays were the days that he was only suppose to go half a day to the day care when Kyle didn't need to be there all day -- and remember this is a child that is not there because the mother needs to work, this is a child that's there solely to have a good time, to play with other children. This is a child that had a perfectly satisfactory sitter in Rosa Valentine that the mother was worried about losing, because she cut back Miss Valentine's hours. So you've got -- so the question about this child's being so horrible and unhappy at the day care, why not just let him stay with Rosa on the days when he says, "Momma, I want to stay home. I want to stay with Rosa." Why don't you let him? Well, what happens instead is, on Friday instead of him going in late or in the afternoon -- and I'm going to pick up in October. October 21, he went in at 9:30 in the morning. October 22, he went in at 2:00. On November 4, he went in at 11:00. On the 11th of November he went in at 12:00. On the 18th, he went in at 10:15. Then they were closed over the Thanksgiving holidays. And then when he came back again it was December 9 at 9:30.

Well, if a child doesn't want to go and he's having all these problems and only is supposed to be here half a day on Friday any way, why is he coming in the morning? And the answer is very simple because it's easy to look back later to make things appear worse than they actually were.

Now, it may well have been that Kyle said that from time to time he didn't want to go to the day care. It may have been he said he didn't like Little Rascals. But it's hard to believe that you have got a child that's exhibiting some extreme distress and yet you take him to the day care more often but you leave him there when you don't need to. If he's that unhappy, pull him out, let him stay home with Miss Valentine.

Now, the first meeting between Audrey Stever and Brenda Toppin occurred some time in this time period. We don't know the exact date. We know it was some time before the "Nutcracker." In all probability some time in December, some time before the "Nutcracker". ... We don't know exactly when. Again, this was a casual meeting. On the 13th at this meeting between Miss Stever and Miss Toppin, this is where she got her instructions on how to question Kyle Ah, she said that at that time she asked Brenda how to question Kyle. She said neither of them expressed any concern about sex abuse.

She had no concern at that time. But she said the reasons that she talked to Miss Toppin that she was concerned about leading the child. She said, ah -- and I asked her why at that point. Now, why was she worried about leading the child? And she said she didn't know. She wasn't sure. She just didn't want to lead him into saying anything. And it's not something that she was really thinking about at the time. The second question that came to my mind was if you don't have any concern about physical or sexual abuse, and you don't have any concern that there's something going on that you want an investigator to do something about it, why don't you just talk to your child yourself? Why do you go to a police officer or somebody else and say how do I question my [child].

I think most of us know how to talk to our children. But she's going to Brenda Toppin. And again they stress not in any official capacity, not being an investigator, but just for advice on how to question a child.

What Miss Toppin said she told her at that time was just wait until the day care comes up in some way. If the child brings up the day care in some way, then ask the "W" questions. ... Well, Miss Stever did not wait for the child to bring the day care up. She went the next day and she sat down with the child with some storybooks and started going through a story with the child and started questioning the child about the day care. This is not the child bringing up Little Rascals. This is not the child bringing up Bob Kelly. This is Mrs. Stever bringing up the topic for the purpose of questioning the child.

The only record we have of what went on is the record that was constructd by Mrs. Stever after she became convinced that her child had been abused. Not an objective record of what actually went on. Not something that you can say I know to an absolute certainty that she's accurately recorded every question she asked and every answer she got from the child.

And it's one thing that we learned throughout this case. It does make a difference how you question a child. It makes a big difference. And it can be a major problem. And we have no idea what was going on at one of the earlier stages of this case in terms of questioning the child.

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