Justin is accused of doing something he says he didn't do.
Will he be cleared, or will he be found guilty?
After dinner — and the steak was wonderful, like a piece of boneless prime rib but even better since it was lightly charred on the outside and a perfect medium rare in the inside — I remembered that Dad told me that Aunt Beth was coming over to talk to us.
“What time did you say Aunt Beth is going to be here?” I asked.
“She said seven-thirty.”
“Okay, since they still might be eating their dinner I’m going to send a text to Ryan and ask him to let me know if he talked to his folks. If he did, then you can call Ryan’s mom and set up a time for us to meet.”
“Let’s wait until after we meet with Beth. I assume that you should hear from Ryan by then,” Dad said.
“Yeah, I’m sure he’ll text me by then.”
When I got to my room I IM’d Ryan.
I keyed ‘let me know after you’ve told your folks’ then clicked the send icon.
I surfed the net for a while, then checked my cell to see if Ryan or any of my other friends had IM’d or phoned or emailed me. There was nothing from Ryan. After answering the others that were the most important, I saw the time on the screen go to seven-thirty and I heard the doorbell.
Aunt Beth arrived at exactly seven-thirty. Exactly. I wondered if she got here earlier and stood on the front porch and waited until exactly seven-thirty to ring the doorbell or whether her timing was just luck. I decided that I wouldn’t ask her. At least until she told us what she found out. Or until she told us the part of what she found out that she was willing to share with us.
We sat down in the dining room so Aunt Beth could open up a couple folders that she brought.
“Okay, here’s what we found out that I can tell you. Let me point out that I don’t usually operate in the field, but this situation is close to me because one of my relatives is the person who is accused of a rape of another juvenile and I made the decision to be more directly involved.
“Lieutenant Gage wasn’t home when an officer from the sheriff’s department and I arrived. However, Mrs. Gage was home and seemed very nervous. She said she didn’t want to talk to us unless her husband was there with her. I suggested that we’d contact her husband and she could come with us to the District Attorney’s office in Martinez where her husband could join her and we could interview the two of them about Susan Carver and the complaint. She kept saying no, she didn’t want to go anywhere with us. So I suggested that she listen to my questions and any she felt she could answer I’d appreciate if she would do so. I explained that we were trying to collect sufficient information so we could decide what to do about the complaint. The choices were to proceed with the complaint or, if there wasn’t sufficient evidence, to drop it completely. Then any questions she didn’t want to answer today I’d ask when we interviewed her and her husband together at the District Attorney’s office. I told her in that case I’d give them a few dates and times that she and her husband could pick from for their interview. She very reluctantly agreed on that basis.
“Here’s a summary of the questions that she did answer.
“They’ve been fostering Susan Carver for five years, since she was ten years old.
“What is most interesting is the reason that they thought that Susan and Justin are sister and brother. She said last summer Susan and Justin were both in a summer learning program at Diablo Valley College. You were at that program, right, Justin?”
“Yes. I took a linguistics class and got both high school and college credit for it.”
“Anyway, Mrs. Gage told us that one of Susan’s friends pointed you out to her because she thought you two looked a lot alike. She told Susan she should go talk to you. Susan asked her friend to walk past you and find out your name. The friend saw your badge, and she was surprised that you and Susan had the same last name. Mrs. Gage said that Susan joined a group of kids who were close to you so you wouldn’t notice her when she looked at you. Susan agreed with her friend that you two could be twins but was too timid to approach and talk to you.
“Mrs. Gage said that Susan told her and her husband about seeing you. They assumed that the two of you were separated when you were babies. They also assumed that since Susan was put into foster care you were in foster care too. Mrs. Gage said that Susan liked the idea of having a brother, but she didn’t want to talk to you because you went to different high schools and because she was too shy.
“Mrs. Gage said Susan was nervous about reporting the rape to the police since it was her brother that did it. She said her husband, Lieutenant Gage, insisted that Susan had to report it. Since he was a policeman and she told him she’d been raped he’s required by law to file a police report. Justin, that is true. Any sexual abuse, including rape, involving a juvenile that is known by a policeman or a CPS case worker or a teacher has to be reported to the police. Mrs. Gage said her husband assured them that he’d have to report it even if Susan did not. Mrs. Gage said Susan, with some gentle persuasion, agreed to report it to the police.”
“Yeah, sure,” I said. “I’ll bet the ‘gentle persuasion’ they used on her could be called child abuse.”
“We don’t know that,” Aunt Beth said. Then she continued.
“Mrs. Gage said she didn’t want to answer any other questions, so I said I’d arrange to have her and her husband interviewed together later this week. I want to make it sooner than later. I’m going to try to get them in, and Susan too, on Thursday.” Dad looked surprised. “Yes, I know that’s fast-tracking it, and if they get an attorney he or she will probably try to delay the interviews. Because the charge against Justin Carver, a juvenile, is rape of another juvenile, I have a strong argument that the interviews should be done soon, and that’s on Thursday or no later than Friday.”
“Aunt Beth, I still don’t understand why Susan would say I’d raped her when I didn’t.”
“I don’t think we’ll be able to come up with a reason until we’ve had an in-depth interview with Susan. Do you agree, Rob?”
Dad stood up. “Beth, before we continue, would either of you like to have some lemon cheesecake and coffee?”
Aunt Beth said she’d like both, and I said I’d like the cheesecake but I’d skip the coffee.
We sat for a while talking about other stuff, and when we’d finished our cheesecake she returned to the reason for her visit.
“Now, I know you want to know about the interview we’ll have with Susan. Since she’s a juvenile, a parent, even a foster parent, has to be present during the interview. Since she’s being fostered her CPS case worker also has to be there. Of course. I’ll be there as well. What I want to do is have Susan’s interview precede the interview I’m going to have with Mr. and Mrs. Gage. I want to do Susan’s interview first so I can adjust the questions I’ll ask when I interview the Gages without Susan present.”
“What about attorneys for Susan and for the Gages?” Dad asked.
“I assume the Gages will seek to have an attorney, and I also assume that attorney will represent Susan as well.”
“Wouldn’t CPS assign a separate attorney for Susan?” Dad asked. “Perhaps the Public Defender?”
“No. The only time CPS will assign an attorney is when the juvenile is accused of a crime, and it is usually someone from the Public Defender’s office who has experience working with juvenile defendants.”
“What happens if Susan has been lying and she confesses. Would she continue to have the same attorney as the Gages, or would she have her own attorney?” Dad asked. He sure had a lot of questions for Aunt Beth tonight.
“In that case it would be up to the Gages.”
“What if Susan lied but she was forced to lie about the rape by Mr. Gage? Would she get a separate attorney then?” I asked.
“Yes, that’s because she’s a juvenile under the auspices of CPS. CPS would probably ask for a Public Defender for Susan in that case.”
“Can I be there when she’s interviewed, since I’m her victim in this scam they’re trying to pull?” I asked.
“No, neither you nor your father, who is your attorney, can be present during the interview.”
“I’d really like to ask her why she’s doing this to me. What if I’m looking at the interview through one of those one-way mirrors like I see on TV?”
Aunt Beth laughed. “Justin, you’ve been watching too much TV. First, you can’t be present in any way. Second, our interview rooms in the District Attorney’s office don’t have one-way mirrors. They’re just small conference rooms.”
“Huh! I oughta go to wherever she goes to high school and ask her why she’s doing this to me.”
“Justin, you absolutely cannot go near this girl!” Aunt Beth said, then she stared at me. “Promise me, right now, that you won’t try to find out where she goes to school or where she lives or where she hangs out with her friends, and that you won’t talk to her.”
“That sucks. She claims I’m her brother and that I raped her. Those are both huge lies. I’ll bet if I just talked to her she’ll say it wasn’t me. She might have been raped and she thinks it’s me but she didn’t remember it accurately from way back in the summer when we were at Diablo Valley College taking classes.”
I saw Aunt Beth’s expression. She didn’t look happy and I realized I hadn’t done what she’d asked.
“Okay, I promise.”
“If you approached her I doubt she would change her story. In any case, you cannot, and I mean absolutely cannot, talk to her or let her see you. You could be arrested. If she claims you raped her, who knows what else she might claim if she saw you? Especially if you were trying to talk to her.”
Then Dad chimed in. “Beth is right, Justin. It would make it much harder to defend you if this went to trial and she could truthfully say you were badgering her about the rape or that you were stalking her, and it’s likely that she’d have witnesses who would testify against you.”
“Alright, alright, you two have convinced me. I guarantee I won’t go near her. Of course, she could come to see me or talk to me and I wouldn’t have any control over that.”
Aunt Beth shook her head. “You do have control, Justin. Just turn around and run away from Susan as fast as you can. Use your running skills from your participation in cross country and track to escape from her clutches.
“Well, that’s all I can tell you at this point. Still, learning what I did from Mrs. Gage has been very useful.”
Since we were finished with what Aunt Beth was going to tell us, and she and Dad started talking about our relatives and what we’d be doing on Thanksgiving, I said I had homework and left. The homework thing was an excuse because I’d already finished my homework. I went to my room to see if Ryan had replied to my IM.
When I checked my phone he’d left me an IM reading, “CALL ME!” in all caps and with the exclamation mark. To me it looked like bad news. Really bad news.
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing Justin Carver
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