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home : latest news : latest news April 29, 2016

9/25/2013 7:45:00 AM
More allegations allowed in Van Brunt case
Defense "opened the door," says prosecution
Don Van Brunt
Don Van Brunt
Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - The man who claims prominent Kingman resident Don Van Brunt molested him when he was a child told jurors the now 83-year-old man sexually abused him in the late 1990s on the first day of Van Brunt's trial.

The alleged victim, now 26, said he was 6 or 7 years old when the incidents began. And while Van Brunt is charged with four felony counts of molestation involving the witness who took the stand Tuesday on day one of the trial and another alleged victim who is scheduled to testify today, it came out in court that Van Brunt might have made several attempts to abuse them.

Judge Derek Carlisle several months ago threw out much of the evidence prosecutors intended to present at trial, but at least some of it was allowed to be heard when the line of questioning used by defense attorney Joshua Davidson alluded to other incidents.

Davidson asked the witness if he ever attempted to fight off Van Brunt's attempts to molest him and the man indicated he did.

One of the jurors, in a note to the judge, asked how many incidents there were.

Carlisle had the jury leave the courtroom to discuss the case and prosecutor Gregory McPhillips argued the question "opened the door" to hearing testimony of other alleged instances of sexual abuse that are not among the charges Van Brunt faces.

Carlisle agreed, saying he was confused why the defense would bring up the subject.

Davidson said his question had to do with testimony offered earlier in the day when a psychologist said child victims of sex crimes rarely fight back because they're usually much smaller than their abuser and unable to defend themselves.

The man testifying also admitted to a history of drug abuse, and said he stole $4,000 from Van Brunt and later stole a safe from the former Mohave County Republican Party committeeman and business leader.

The man said the experience shattered his innocence. He also said he kept his alleged ordeal a secret until confiding to a girlfriend in 2009. He would later tell his sister, who told their father.

That led to a family meeting held in a restaurant in Temecula, Calif., where it was revealed that Van Brunt allegedly molested the witness's younger brother. The revelation led the man's family to contact law enforcement in Mohave County.

The man said he "acted out" and could be very difficult at times, but that when he was younger, Van Brunt always had cash-paying jobs for him to perform. This led to the pair spending significant time together.

"Everything seemed so fake," he said. "But I didn't know how to express myself."

The alleged victim acknowledged he told his father that Van Brunt, in so many words, had sexual intercourse with him when he was a child, but later, in the same conversation, clarified his comment by saying the alleged abuse did not include penetration.

The point is important because Davidson, the defense attorney, told jurors in his opening statement that neither of the alleged victims was credible.

The man, however, admitted to stealing from Van Brunt on at least three occasions. Mohave County handed the safe theft case to Yavapai County to prosecute.

To date, no charges have been filed.

Under questioning from Davidson, the alleged victim's previous statements to investigators contradicted his testimony on Tuesday. He said the reason for the discrepancies was because he has had a year to recall the events that allegedly took place more than a decade earlier.

The second alleged victim is scheduled to take the stand at 9:30 a.m. today. The trial is expected to last at least through Thursday.

ICT - Hummingbead of Kingman
Related Stories:
• Jury: Van Brunt not guilty of molestation charges
• Closing arguments coming in Van Brunt abuse trial
• Molestation trial of former Kingman business leader under way
• Molestation trial faces former leading citizen
• Charges against Van Brunt survive; motions thrown out
• Former political leader pleads not guilty to child molestation charges

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