One of a series of audio podcasts in the "Just Case Studies" series of RTI International's Center for Forensic Science's "Just Science" podcasts, this presentation focuses on the case of a sexual predator, using phone interviews with the prosecutor of the case (Kim Davignon) and one of the victims (Chaz Easterly).
The convicted man was Mel Hall, a former Yankee baseball player. He was convicted on three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child. The interviews focus on how to manage cases that involve child victims of sexual assault. The prosecutor, Kim Davignon, was a member of a prosecutorial unit in her Texas jurisdiction that specialized in cases in which an authority figure (parent, teacher, coach, etc.) has victimized a child, at the time of the charged offenses, Mel Hall was the coach of a girls' softball team. She discusses the characteristics of such cases of abuse, which typically involve manipulation by the offender to convince the victim that the sexual abuse is part of an acceptable and caring relationship. One of Mel Hall's victims, Chaz Easterly, confirms such tactics in her interaction with Mel Hall as her coach. The interviews also address some of the vulnerabilities of child victims (loneliness, desire for acceptance, and submission to adults) and how in contemporary settings (social media and cell phone access outside the home) there are more opportunities for sexual predators to make contact and manipulate potential victims. Preventive efforts discussed are parental education about the warning signs that a child may be a sexual abuse victim and the education of children and teens about sexual abuse and manipulative techniques of sexual predators. The prosecutor also discusses some of the distinctive features of a child's sexual abuse by a parent and how prosecutors should handle such cases.