He Said, She Said, The Only Material Witness Said
When a family goes through tragedy nothing feels better than hope and support. And, our support came from the Autism Society Central Virginia (ASCV). ASCV is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing services, education, advocacy, and support to individuals, families, and professionals interested in and affected by autism. ASCV is an affiliate of the national Autism Society and has been in operation for over 30 years.
The ASCV hired Jennifer Nesbitt, an attorney with The Nesbitt Law Firm located in Richmond, Virginia, to write a Brief Amicus Curiae. For those unfamiliar with an amicus it is a document submitted by a third party that, in this case, is asking the Supreme Court of Virginia to consider how autism is significant and was not considered by the lower courts. Amicus Curiae literally means friend of the court.
Ms. Nesbitt worked as a prosecutor in Richmond, Virginia for 10 years; with over half of those years specializing in, and prosecuting sex crimes. When asked to write an amicus in support of our son her only reluctance was her core value of protecting victims. She asked for all transcripts before she would commit. A board member with the ASCV told me that she not only agreed, but felt passionately about doing whatever she could to ensure true justice would be the outcome for Drew’s case. She wrote the amicus.
Today I will be pulling from the amicus as well as from the trial transcript. As in previous posts I will only use our son’s name, with the exception of Ms. Nesbitt.
Ms. Nesbitt summarized the encounter in question in the paragraph below.
(Her name) invited Harrison to come to her home to hang out. (her name) was aware that Harrison had a romantic interest in her, but Harrison knew that (her name) was involved in a committed relationship with another man at that time. As the evening progressed, there was a sexual encounter between Harrison and (her name) wherein Harrison penetrated (her name’s) vagina with his finger and tongue. (Her name) testified that she did not consent to the sexual contact and that she communicated to Harrison both verbally and nonverbally that she did not want the contact to occur. Harrison testified that, based on his prior interactions with (her name) and her playful demeanor throughout the encounter until she stood up, “put her hands up and said, Stop”, he believed that she was consenting to the contact. Harrison and (her name) agree that, at the point when (her name) stood up and told Harrison to stop, he stopped touching her and left the apartment.
Now, I will share a part of the testimony from the trial transcript. Drew’s defense attorney is asking the questions. Drew’s therapist is answering. Drew’s therapist is the only material witness in this case. Material witness: n. a person who apparently has information about the subject matter of a lawsuit or criminal prosecution which is significant enough to affect the outcome of the case or trial.
Q: Doctor, did you ask her about the sexual encounter and did she answer that something had happened?
A: I did not ask her about the sexual encounter. She shared with me that there had been a sexual encounter.
Q: Did you ask her why she did not report that to the police back in March?
A: I did.
Q: What was her response to you, Doctor?
A: I asked (her name), So why did you not call the police? I wrote down her response at the time. I called her at 7 o’clock, the evening of August 28. (Her name) says to me, I did not call the police because when I asked Drew to stop, he stopped. I noted here that (her name) says to me, that she reported that she only asked Drew to stop once and he stopped.
Drew was convicted of forcible sodomy and object sexual penetration. To clarify: forcible sodomy in this case is him performing oral sex upon her, allegedly against her will. Object sexual penetration in this case is him inserting his finger into her vagina.
In the next post I will share how the judge reached his decision. And I will begin to introduce the various ways that autism was a factor, and has never been considered.