Curt’s life takes a turn that he never expected, and he realizes that it’s because he forgot something that didn’t seem important at the time. He also discovers that others have forgotten things that are important and that turns out to both help him and hurt him.
Mature or distressing themes. This story deals with abuse.
Chapter 36 — Dr. Leonard and Kyle Testify
Beth Wolman turned expecting to find me sitting in the gallery but I had already come through the gate and was standing next to the Prosecutor’s table. I saw her stifle a grin as we walked to stand in front of the Judge’s Bench. Lawrence Wilde walked up and stood next to me. Judge Young leaned forward and, in a soft voice, he asked, “Curtis, are you willing to take off your shirt and T-shirt and show your bruises here in open court?”
“Yes,” I replied in the same kind of soft voice, “I am. I’ll need assistance to get my T-shirt off. My attorney Mr. Williams can help me.”
Judge Young announced, “Curtis Fischer is willing to show his injuries to the Court. So that is what will be done. The request made by Mr. Wilde is overruled. Mr. Williams, will you please assist Curtis so his T-shirt can be removed.”
I walked back to the Prosecutor’s table. I removed my short-sleeve shirt and pulled my T out of my pants. Mr. Williams helped me pull my T off my right arm and over my head. Next wouild be the difficult part, getting it over my cast. The extra-extra-large size T I’d selected was a tight fit even though it didn’t look that way. It wasn’t easy, and it took maybe a half-minute in all.
Beth Wolman addressed Dr. Leonard, who’d been sitting in the witness stand all this time.
“Dr. Leonard, will you and Curtis Fischer please approach the Judicial Panel. As I read the list of Curtis Fischer’s injuries, please point them out and describe them for the Judicial Panel.”
Dr. Leonard and I stood in front of the Judicial Panel. Beth started to read off the locations of my injuries.
“First, Curtis Fischer’s left arm.”
“Curtis suffered three displacement fractures of the body of the radius in his left arm, with the breaks four point two inches from the distal end of the bone. The displacement fractures required surgery to realign and immobilize the bone. In two weeks we will change his cast to a type that will allow more elbow movement. It will take another twelve to sixteen weeks for full recovery.
“In addition, the ulna in his left arm suffered a non-separated break, often called a hairline fracture. It is four point zero inches from the distal end of the bone. It will take approximately six weeks for full recovery.”
“Please identify the type of injury that could cause the breaks in Curtis Fischer’s arm.”
“In my opionion, the breaks would most likely have been caused by a force strike against his arm, such as falling from a distance into or being thrown against the edge of a hard object. Once the breaks occurred it is most likely that a significant force pulling vertically from a prone position caused the fractures to separate.”
“Could that be caused by someone trying to lift Curtis Fischer by using his broken arm to lift him off a floor?”
“Yes, that is a likely cause.”
Beth continued to the next item in the list. “Second, the bruise on the back of Curtis Fischer’s left shoulder.”
“This bruise to the muscle and tendons in Curtis’ left shoulder appears to be the result of a force strike against an object. It is painful when pressure is applied, but it’s not serious and full recovery should take another two to four weeks.”
“Third, the bruise on the left side of Curtis Fischer’s chest.”
“This large bruise was caused by a direct strike of considerable force. There was no break in the second or third rib bones on the left side which was the area of contact of the strike. There is sign of significant bruising of the pectoral muscle. It is painful when pressure is applied, and recovery should take another four weeks.”
“Fourth, the bruise on the left side of Curtis Fischer’s face.”
“This large bruise was caused by a direct strike of considerable force. It incorporated minor lacerations around his left eye. Because of bruising and swelling of the muscle and connective tissues he will experience pain whenever pressure is applied, or when he chews on the left side or yawns, for at least an additional week and possibly longer.
“Like the bruise on his chest, this injury caused concern but we did not detect any fractures in the bones surrounding his eye. There was a reduction in acuity of his vision due to bruising and swelling in the tissues surrounding his eye. Full recovery of the area should take another four weeks, at which time we recommend that he see a opthomologist to confirm that the vision in his left eye has returned to normal.”
“Thank you Curt. If Mister Wilde has no objection, you can put on your shirt and return to the gallery,” Beth told me.
“Mister Wilde,” Judge Young asked, “do you have any objection to Curtis Fischer putting on his shirts and returning to the gallery?”
“No, your honor.”
So that’s what I did.
“Doctor, were any of these injuries life-threatening?”
“Were any of these injuries serious?”
“Yes, the breaks in his left arm are serious. Most serious is the displacement fracture in his radius which is a cause for concern. We will watch how the fracture heals. Because Curtis is young the break should heal with conservative treatment. The problem for the patient is the need to precisely follow the treatment protocol so healing can complete.”
“What activities are proscribed for Curtis?”
“Any use of his left arm until healing of his breaks is complete. That means no sports, no exercise equipment, no skateboards, and no physical education classes for the balance of this calendar year. We recommend that once the cast is removed he start a program of swimming as physical therapy to help restore the muscle strength in his left arm, as well as all of his muscles because his normal activities have been curtailed due to immobilization of his arm and recovery from his other injuries.”
“Dr. Leonard, is Curtis Fischer right-handed or left-handed?”
“He is left-handed.”
“Would the fractures in his left arm prevent normal use of his left hand, and for what period of time?”
“The fractures would prevent normal use of his left hand without pain until full healing, about twelve to sixteen weeks from now.”
“Thank you, Dr. Leonard.” She turned to Lawrence Wilde. “Your witness.”
“I have no questions for this witness.”
I saw Judge Young check the clock. I looked at my watch and it was almost twelve thirty. As if I’d wished it, Judge Young declared the trial adjourned for lunch and that it would continue at two o’clock.
I stood up and stretched. Mr. Williams looked over at Beth Wolman. “I’m going to go over and see if Beth wants to get together with us, Curt.”
“Okay.” I sat back down as he walked to the Prosecutor’s table and chatted with Beth Wolman for a couple minutes.”
“What’s up, dufus?”
I turned and grinned at Tom.
“What are you doing in here? You’re a witness, and you’re not allowed in here unless you’re asked to be in here, don’t ya know?”
“Yes, I know about all that. But you don’t. The rule is when the trial isn’t going on I can come on in. You know what else?” I shook my head. “The guard let me in!” he whispered.
“Besides,” Tom added, “it’s lunchtime. Let’s go eat. I’m starved.”
“Now, that sounds like a plan. Here comes your dad. He checked with Beth Wolman to see if she wants to meet with any of us.”
Mr. Williams walked over. “Hi, Tom. Well, it looks like we’re on our own for lunch today. Let’s collect the others and see where they want to eat.”
We walked out of the courtroom and saw Mrs. Hutchins, Mark, and Kyle waiting for us.
“Where would you like to go to eat?” Mr. Williams asked.
“Anyone for La Cuchara again?” I asked.
Everyone thought it was an excellent idea, so that’s where we went. Like before, everyone had a great meal and we raved about it as we started to walk back to the courthouse.
“My chiles rellenos were fantastic,” I told them. “They weren’t just stuffed with cheese like they usually are, they had pine nuts and meat and rice and veggies too. The sauce was real spicy, just the way I like it. They were delicious.”
Kyle hadn’t had any Mexican food until he came here from Illinois for Don’s trial. At first he stayed with his aunt and she introduced him to good Mexican food, not the fast-food crap, and he liked it. Then because his aunt had to go on a business trip for her work, he moved in with Mrs. Hutchins and Mark and that’s where he was staying now. Mark loves Mexican food, so Mrs. Hutchins made some dishes at home and Kyle got to love it as much as Mark. I wondered about Kyle moving back home to Illinois. The kind of foods he liked might be so changed his mom wouldn’t recognize him.
I thought about Kyle because I assumed he’d be the next witness. He’d be questioned about what happened when he lived at home and Don was his father. These were the things Lawrence Wilde talked about during his opening remarks.
I noticed the clock on the Commercial Bank tower. We still had about forty-five minutes before we had to be back at the courthouse.
“It’s too early to head back now. What do you guys want to do?” I asked.
Mr. Williams and Mrs. Hutchins looked at each other.
“What would you like to do, Andrea?”
“I’d like to go to the creek and see if the beavers are swimming around.”
“Beavers?” Kyle asked.
“Yes, there’s a creek a few blocks from here. A family of beavers lives there, and they built a beaver dam with branches they cut down and put together. It can be seen from a bridge that crosses over the creek. They keep the dam they built in good shape by adding new branches and twigs. They live in the top part of the dam that’s above the water line. They’ve had babies, too, last year and this year. They also built a few other dams further up and down the creek so the water level in the pond where they live won’t get high enough to flood the upper level of the dam where they live.”
“How did you hear about it, grandma?” Mark asked.
“The channel five news had a story about them last week. It’s surprising what you can learn by watching the news on TV.” She nudged Mark with her elbow.
“Hey, I’ve been doing homework for the summer session classes I’m taking,” he replied. “I don’t have time for idle entertainment.” He grinned, and Kyle laughed. I wondered if Mark exaggerated the amount of his homework.
“You know,” Kyle said, “seeing beavers sounds interesting. I’ll go along with you guys.”
“Me too,” Mark said.
Mr. Williams said he wanted to go as well.
I looked at Tom. “You up for a short walk to see the beavers?”
“Tom and I are with you. That makes all of us.”
I pulled out my smartphone and brought up the alarm clock. “Okay, I’ve set an alarm for one-thirty and another for one-forty to remind us when to leave so we’ll be back at the court on time.”
The walk to Alhambra Creek took about ten minutes. We were the only ones there, and we stayed still and didn’t say anything so if the beavers were in the creek we wouldn’t spook them. We stood on the bridge and watched the water flowing in the creek for about five minutes. Just when I started to think we wouldn’t see anything, Kyle nudged me and pointed. A beaver was slowly swimming, just visible below the water line, toward us. When it got about ten feet from the bridge it stopped swimming and looked up and stared at us for about a minute. Then it flapped its tail with a big splash and swam back toward where it came from, one of the beaver dams downstream we assumed. I’d been able to take a few pix with my smartphone. I could see the beaver clearly, and I planned to Photoshop the best of them to make the images of the beaver larger.
We were all excited seeing a beaver in the wild. Of course, it’s because we were willing to call downtown Martinez part of the wild. We walked back to the courthouse talking about the beaver and listening to Mrs. Hutchins tell us what the TV news show had said about the beavers as well as river otters and even a mink that are now swimming in Alhambra Creek and living along the banks. It made the walk interesting, and I was sorry when we had to return to the courthouse.
When the trial resumed Beth Wolman called Kyle as the next witness for the Prosecution. Lawrence Wilde stood up and said, “I object. Kyle Campbell is Donovan Clarey’s son. He cannot testify against his father.”
“What is the legal reference to support that position?” Judge Young asked.
“Here is the reference. Instead of reading it to you, I’ve reproduced it here so all interested parties can read it.” He handed out the document with the copies for Judge Young and those at the Prosecutor’s table, and even had one of his assistants give copies to me and to Mr. Williams.
From In re Agosto, 553 F. Supp. 1298, 1325 (D. Nev. 1983) (deeming parent-child privilege deserving of constitutional protection on privacy grounds).
In re Agosto held that a parent-child privilege is fundamental in protecting the privacy of familial relationships and the inviolability and integrity of the family. The court stressed the importance of intervening in matters that place an individual in a position of choosing between loyalty to his family and loyalty to the state. In a lengthy opinion with high praise for a common law parent-child privilege, the court cited another federal decision in stating that:
“The family has been traditionally recognized by society as the most basic human and psychological unit, and when the state intrudes with its vast resources in an attempt to disassemble that unit, then every safeguard under the law must be abundantly exercised by the Court to guarantee that the inherent imbalance of experience and expertise between parent and state is minimized to the greatest extent humanly possible.”
Judge Young let out a breath. “Mr. Wilde, the reference that you provided the court is not the law of the State of California, nor of the United States. Therefore In re Agosto cannot be used as governing law. Your objection is overruled.”
“Ms. Wolman, will you continue by calling your next witness?”
“I call Kyle Campbell to the witness stand.”
It took a couple minutes for the guard to bring Kyle in and direct him to the witness stand. He was sworn in and Beth asked for his name, age, and address like she did with the other witnesses.
“My name is Kyle Campbell and I’m fifteen years old. I live at 592 Pepperwood Street, Niles, Illinois. I’m currently staying at 218 Pauley Court so I can be here to be a prosecution witness in this trial.”
Beth started her questioning. “Kyle, your adopted father is the defendant in this trial, is that correct?”
“Did your father abuse you?”
“How did that happen?”
“When I was twelve I told my mom that I’m gay. She is okay with it, and so is my sister Melissa. Mom said I should tell Don. He’d always been an okay father to me, and Mom said she was certain he wouldn’t have any problem with me being gay, so I told him. It was a disaster. Don stopped being nice to me. He said being gay was a choice and I was too young to know anything about it, that it was a phase, that the Bible says it’s a perversion, and so on. He spouted all the same garbage as anti-gay preachers I’ve seen on TV. He got real mean to me. It seemed like I couldn’t do anything right according to Don. He started grabbing me and slapping me on the back of my head or on my face when I didn’t do something exactly the way he thought it should be done. Finally Mom said if he hit me one more time she’d take me and my sister and move out and divorce him.”
“Did he stop abusing you?”
“He stopped hitting me. Don told my mom he wanted to send me to one of those ex-gay places where they’d make me straight. Mom said no way. But one day about a week later I came home from school and Don grabbed me and he gagged me and tied me up. He drove me to the First Brethren Journey Camp in Wisconsin. I was turned over to a ‘guide’ who gave me an injection of something that made me woozy so I couldn’t fight him. He carried me into a small room with a cot and nothing else and left me, still gagged and tied up. It was a prison cell.”
“How long were you there?”
“I don’t know how long I was there. I started to throw up and because I was gagged I started to choke on my vomit. They must have been watching me, because two guys rushed in and removed my gag. They pounded on my back until I was able to breathe, and I threw up all over them.” Kevin grinned when he said that. “They started praying, saying I was filled with the devil and that’s what was coming out. They left me tied up and lying on the cot in my own vomit. I peed and crapped in my pants and no one came in. I didn’t get anything to eat or drink.”
“They just left you there?”
“Yes, I was mostly left alone. They’d come by and tell me I had to ask God for his assistance and then they could help me expel my homosexuality, the wrongfulness inside me. They said once I knew what God wanted I would be able to ask them to help me start on the path to rightiousness and become straight. I refused to ask them for help. Instead I meditated to make myself seem to be unconscious. It was easy because I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since I got there and it made me feel weak. I actually was unconsious a lot of the time when I was alone. Finally two guys came in and tried to wake me up. I just stayed limp and never opened my eyes or reacted in any way. They shook me, yelled at me, poured hot and cold water on me, pulled off all my clothes, took away my cot, and made me lie on the cold concrete floor in my vomit, pee, and poop. I was aware of what was going on, but the entire time I pretended to be unconscious or I was really unconscious.”
“What happened then?”
“I was always limp when they tried to pick me up or move me. I still hadn’t had anything to eat or drink, and I wasn’t able to open my eyes. I really thought I might die so I prayed a lot, but never the way they wanted which was to stop being gay. I figured since God made me gay, that’s the way he wanted me to be. Finally another man came in and told them to take me to the hospital. I heard him say that they had gone too far with me. They carried me into the showers and washed and dried me. They put clean clothes on me. They strapped me in the back seat of an SUV and we drove for a while. When we stopped they got a wheelchair and brought me into a hospital emergency room. That woke me up and I opened my eyes and saw a cop and started yelling that I’d been kidnapped. The two guys tried to wheel me back outside and the cop grabbed them and ended up handcuffing both of them. I gave the cop mom’s cellphone number and he called her.”
“What happened then?”
“The hospital gave me an IV and moved me to a room. Mom drove to Wisconsin and met me at the hospital. She went to the Madison police station and told them Don said he’d taken me to a place where I’d learn to be straight. She said because she owned the house outright she kicked him out and called the police in Niles. She’d been frantic not knowing where I was. She had my birth certificate and a copy of my school ID so when I got out of the hospital the next day the police let her take me home. I found out I’d been in the First Brethren Journey Camp for almost a week.
“Mom filed charges against Don but because he was listed as my adoptive father on my birth certificate they couldn’t hold him. Mom went to court and got a restraining order against Don, and she divorced him. She got everything, including the house. She got him taken off my birth certificate and changed our last names to Campbell, Mom’s maiden name.”
“Do you see the defendant Donovan Clarey, who was your adoptive father, in this courtroom?”
“Yes, over there,” Kyle pointed to Don. “I see him sitting there at the Defense table where he’s on trial for child abuse.”
“Kyle, have you gone through counseling because of what happened to you?”
“For how long?”
“About a year. Until I started high school.”
“Why did you see a counselor?”
“When I got back home after having been in the First Brethren Journey Camp I started having panic attacks. I had symptoms like shaking and crying and….” He stopped talking for a bit. “Anyway, Mom sent me to a counselor who specializes in helping kids who have panic attacks as the result of something traumatic that happened to them. The counselor I saw was great, and he helped me understand what caused my attacks and I shouldn’t be ashamed that I had them.”
“How did you find out about this trial?”
“Mom got a call from a mortgage company asking for information about Don because he had applied to take out a loan on Curt’s house. Mom got as much information as she could from the mortgage guy, and when he wouldn’t tell her anything else she said she had a restraining order against Don and refused to give him any other information.
“We wanted to find out more about what Don was doing so I started Googling his name and that gave me a link to the Chronicle and Times websites out here. The hit I got was for a story that said Donovan Clarey had been arrested for battery on a minor. Mom called the police here and talked to the officer assigned to the case. He referred her to you, Ms. Wolman, in the District Attorney’s office, and you and my mom talked about the case and what we could do to help. Since Mom has to work and I’m on summer vacation from school we decided I’d come here and testify against Don.”
“Are you gay?”
“Yes, I’m still gay and my mom and sister are still okay with it.”
“I have no more questions for this witness.” Beth walked back to the Prosecutor’s table and sat down.
“Do you have any questions for this witness, Mr. Wilde?”
“Yes I do, Your Honor.” He walked right up to the witness stand and stood facing Kyle. I could tell it make Kyle nervous, but then I saw him take a deep breath, sit back, and grin at Mr. Wilde.
“Kyle… may I call you Kyle?”
“No. My name is Mr. Campbell.”
“Hmm… alright, Mr. Campbell, before you announced that you thought you were gay, was your father a good father to you?”
“I’m sorry, I never announced that I thought I was gay.”
Mr. Wilde stared at Kyle. “Mr. Campbell, you told this court that when you were twelve you told your mother that you thought you were gay.”
“No, I did not tell the court what you just said. I never said that I ‘thought’ I was gay. Can the Court Reporter please read back exactly what I said?”
Lawrence Wilde said, “I don’t see why it’s necessary…” but Judge Young interrupted him.
“I would like the Court Reporter to read Kyle Campbell’s testimony, from the beginning, after he stated his name and address.”
The Court Reporter read back the testimony:
Beth Wolman: “Kyle, your adopted father is the defendant in this trial, is that correct?”
Kyle Campbell: “Yes.”
Beth Wolman: “Did your father abuse you?”
Kyle Campbell: “Yes.”
Beth Wolman: “How did that happen?”
Kyle Campbell: “When I was twelve I told my mom that I’m gay. She was okay with it, and so was my sister Melissa. Mom said I should tell Don. He’d always been an okay father to me, and Mom said she was certain he wouldn’t have any problem with me being gay, so I told him. What a disaster! Don stopped being nice to me…
The Court Reporter paused, and asked Judge Young, “Should I continue reading the testimony?”
“No. I think we’ve heard enough to confirm that Kyle Campbell responded to Mr. Wilde’s question properly. Now, Mr. Wilde, Kyle Campbell did not say the word ‘thought’ in his testimony. Would you like to restate your question so Kyle Campbell can answer it?”
“Alright, Mr. Campbell, before you told your father that you were gay, was he a good father to you?”
“Would he have remained a good father to you if you hadn’t told him that you’re gay?”
Beth Wolman stood up. “Your Honor, I object. This question requires speculation by the witness.”
Judge Young replied, “I agree. Mr. Wilde, either rephrase your question or withdraw it.”
“I withdraw the question. Mr. Campbell, how did you know that you were gay?”
“When I was eleven years old in the sixth grade I realized I liked looking at boys and not at girls. I like being around boys, and doing things with boys, and I wanted to have sex with them. I knew it meant I was gay. I knew what being gay meant. I talked to my best friends and they agreed that I was gay and it was okay with them. That meant a lot to me.”
“Have you had sex with other boys?”
“Did this occur before you told your mother that you were gay?”
“Did this also occur after you told your mother that you were gay?”
“Did this also occur after you told your father, Donovan Clarey, that you were gay?”
“And why was that?”
“He watched me like a hawk. He said I had to come directly home from school. I wasn’t allowed to visit any of my friends or have them over.”
“Have you considered what your experience at the First Brethren Journey Camp would have been like if you’d been cooperative?”
Beth Wolman stood and said, “I object to this question. Again, it requires speculation by the witness.”
Judge Young banged his gavel. “Objection sustained.”
“I have no further questions for this witness,” Mr. Wilde told Judge Young.
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This story and the included images are Copyright © 2011-2013 by Colin Kelly (colinian). They cannot be reproduced without express written consent. Codey’s World web site has written permission to publish this story. No other rights are granted.
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