Expert Tease

A landmark Arizona court ruling leads a Mesa woman, her former physician and expert witnesses through a continuing controversy over flashbacks of long-ago sexual abuse.

On December 11, attorneys Turley and Parks made their respective closing statements.

Turley concluded by displaying a photograph of Kim Logerquist taken about six months before she first went to Danforth's clinic in 1971.

"I represent not only Kim who is here [in court], but I represent the little girl who is here," he said, gesturing to the photo. "The result of what [Danforth] did has been to alter her life drastically for years on end. . . . She's going to miss out on tons of things. And instead, she has a birthday party for her dog."

Veteran attorney Frank Parks told jurors that the lawsuit against Dr. Danforth led to "a Salem witchcraft trial in 2001."
Alison Elizabeth Taylor
Veteran attorney Frank Parks told jurors that the lawsuit against Dr. Danforth led to "a Salem witchcraft trial in 2001."
Kim Logerquist, in the courtroom shortly before the verdict last December 11.
Todd H. Lillard
Kim Logerquist, in the courtroom shortly before the verdict last December 11.

A just verdict, the attorney said, would be "around $3 million to $5 million."

Frank Parks began by speaking, not to the jury, but to John Danforth. "You who have been so wrongly accused must be vindicated," he said.

Then he turned to the jury: "Notwithstanding that you feel sorry for this lady, this is a court of justice, not a court of sympathy. Speak through your minds and not through your hearts."

Parks directed the panel's attention to Logerquist, who stared straight ahead.

"Her mind tells her that she was the chosen one," the lawyer said, emphasizing the words "mind" and "chosen." "She was the chosen one by Dr. John Danforth because he saw something unique in her that the rest of his patients didn't have, these unseen, unique qualities. And he decided to do this to her and nobody else."

In response to Turley, who'd made some historical references in his closing, Parks said, "In 1692, there was a very important event in this country, and that was the Salem witchcraft trials. Young girls had acted in an aberrant way, acting funny . . . and there was a witch hunt based on speculation. What this is is a Salem witchcraft trial in 2001."

Judge Mangum sent the Logerquist jury to begin deliberations at 4 p.m. December 11. Usually, when a panel gets a case that late in the day, they'll choose a foreperson and adjourn until the morning.

But less than 40 minutes later, the court bailiff stepped into the courtroom, where the attorneys still were gathering their things.

"We have a verdict," he said. "I'm not kidding."

A few minutes later, the clerk read it:

"We find for the defendant, John Danforth."

A loud cheer erupted from Danforth's family members in the gallery, as the judge banged his gavel and demanded order.

Kim Logerquist showed nothing. She and Kent Turley immediately left the courtroom.

The judge invited the jury to stick around to discuss the case. Nine of the 10 jurors took him up on it, and chatted with Mangum and his staff, Danforth and his attorneys, the doctor's family members, and others. The panel would end up kibitzing for longer than they'd deliberated.

One juror said the lack of other accusers against Danforth weighed heavily against Logerquist. "I have to tell you, there's just no way it would be just one person or even two over 30 years saying that he had done those things," she said.

Mary Danforth asked the jurors if they believed anyone had molested Logerquist. They nodded, with one juror saying it probably had been by a family member, and before Logerquist ever had met the doctor.

"I think she's genuinely sick," that juror said. "But $5 million ain't gonna make it go away."

John Danforth still seemed perplexed as to why Logerquist had targeted him: "I have always wondered, 'Why me? Why me?' I mean, she was accusing me of being a pedophile -- the worst of the worst. I didn't even remember her as a patient. I still don't get it."

The doctor also addressed the issue of his cigar smoking.

"Can you imagine me, as a new doctor in Mesa with a huge Mormon practice, smoking cigars in the office?" he said. "Unbelievable! Never happened."

What the panel said about the trial's key expert witnesses -- van der Kolk and Kihlstrom -- suggests Justice Feldman was right, at least in this case, when he wrote in 2000 that jurors can evaluate testimony as well as judges.

"The experts pretty much negated each other," a juror said. "We were more interested in the non-experts -- especially Kim and the doctor."

Added Ernest Valenzuela, who is a corrections officer in Florence, "We didn't really talk that much about the experts. Kim just didn't have the proof, not even close."

Before the group dispersed, foreperson Karen Scullion, a special-education teacher in the Mesa school district, had a final thought.

"When I get done being a teacher," she said, tongue only slightly in cheek, "I want to learn how to be an expert witness."

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