Richard L. Lougee
Sample Opening Statement in Child Sexual Abuse Trial
No crime is more despicable than the sexual abuse of a child – none. It should be no surprise, then, that an allegation of sexual abuse of a child is the most difficult to defend. Cases such as this are emotionally charged and there is a natural inclination to believe the allegations to be true – just to be on the safe side. The state will tell a troubling story and it is said you can’t defeat a good story with facts. Not only will the state tell you its story, it will do so first – before Thomas Moreno gets to tell his side of the case. And making it even more difficult for Mr. Moreno, as the accused in a case like this he can’t prove he didn’t do what he is charged with – he can’t prove the negative “I didn’t do this.” That is what makes these cases just what I told you during jury selection – they are the most emotionally draining, difficult and serious cases known to the law.
I just told you it is said you can’t defeat a story with facts. This is true in a bar, at home, in a political discussion – everywhere but in an American courtroom. In this room, during this trial, facts are all that matter. Facts that are proven to be true are what you are to consider. Emotions, contradictory statements, expert opinions unsupported by science, claims proven untrue – these are not facts. They may support a story – but not a story built on facts and evidence. And a story without a solid foundation of true facts and reliable evidence is not one you can use to find a man charged with the most serious crime guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
As I’ve said, we can’t prove Mr. Moreno didn’t do anything to Alyssa Eden. Can’t do it. All we can do is present you with surrounding details and facts that allow you to answer two questions:
- If Alyssa lied on October 26, 2011, and is still lying, why?
- When she discussed specific sexual acts starting on October 26, 2011, where did she get information about sexual acts unknown to most 9-year-olds? Digital penetration? Licking?
The law is the defendant Mr. Moreno doesn’t have to do anything, prove anything. That’s the law – that is not reality. We know that to defend an innocent man like Thomas Moreno we have to tell you, in fact prove to you, why Alyssa’s allegations are made up. We will do that.
And in addition to proving why the child made up the allegations in October 2011 and sticks by them, we will present evidence that will show the accuser’s story is just too implausible to be believed.
- Where it happened
- When it happened
- How it supposedly happened
- How important facts have changed and new ones created
As you listen to the evidence from Melissa Eden’s children and her husband, remember these people have lived for years with a woman on a mission to get Thomas Moreno. If facts change, if new details arise, consider the possibility that Melissa Eden has been fixing things.
Remember, on October 26, 2011, before any investigation had been done, moments after Alyssa had been questioned thoroughly by Melissa, Melissa is heard telling her husband “Your father is going to prison for this.”
The evidence will be Melissa didn’t need evidence to begin her crusade to destroy Thomas Moreno. She questioned her child, believed what she heard, and she has been working to destroy Thomas Moreno ever since. She has controlled much of the evidence in this case just as she has controlled the people around her.
I’m not going to list the evidence that is improbable, inconsistent or impossible that you will hear – this would allow Melissa to fix things. But listen carefully to what doesn’t make sense or appears made up.
Again, we have no legal obligation to help you decide this case but we will. We will give you the facts the state has left out, ignored or misrepresented. Only then will you be able to decide if the story born of hysteria on October 26, 2011, can be used to find Mr. Moreno guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
I am confident after you hear all of the evidence you will find this case was born of fears and nurtured by tears. The evidence against Mr. Moreno is not true – he is innocent.
Nothing you do will put this family back together. It’s destroyed forever. But you can put an end to the hell Thomas Moreno has been in for three and a half years by finding him not guilty of all the allegations against him.