By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
"This happened for 10 years — 10 whole years! — and [prosecutors] keep saying, 'It only happened once when he was 14.' This is so untrue," Kevin's wife says. "The county attorneys would not listen to us."
Nelson himself later admitted to detectives — after initially lying to police, calling the accusations of abuse "ludicrous" — that he had abused Kevin when he was 14 or 15. He even corroborated his story about often walking to the bathroom to spit out the ejaculate after he was finished, although, he didn't mention anything about humming.
Before admitting to the abuse, Nelson continuously apologized during an interview with detectives. When asked why he was apologizing, Nelson finally said: "For crippling that boy."
Nelson told detectives he'd performed oral sex on Kevin, starting, he claims, in the early 1980s, when Kevin was 14 or 15.
Nelson told detectives it was a "sin" and "against nature." He went on to say he was a "pervert" for what he'd done to the young boy and that he wished he could meet with Kevin now so his victim could "punch or kill him."
The detectives who'd taken Nelson's confession — and spoken, at length, with Kevin — recommended he be charged with two counts of sexual conduct with a minor, two counts of child molestation, and two counts of public sexual indecency, all class-two felonies with stiff sentencing guidelines. Initially, prosecutors in the County Attorney's Office, and the head of the Phoenix PD's sex-crimes unit, signed off on the charges, leading to a grand jury indictment of Nelson on each of the class-two felonies.
However, after the indictment, Mitchell and the deputy county attorney who prosecuted the case, Rachel Reames, decided they weren't satisfied with the interview Phoenix detectives had conducted with Kevin.
"When we initially got the case in early November, it was a little bit ambiguous," Mitchell says. "There had been an initial interview by a detective, and there were some concerns about the quality of that interview, um, specifically [about how the detective narrowed] down timeframes that were critical."
So Mitchell called in Wendy Dutton, a veteran forensic interviewer at St. Joseph's Hospital who specializes in interviewing victims of child sex crimes. Dutton and Mitchell have worked together on several childhood-abuse cases. In most, however, the victims were still children.
Under normal circumstances, Mitchell concedes, someone like Dutton would not be used to interview an adult victim, like Kevin. Detectives are well trained in conducting forensic interviews themselves.
According to Mitchell, though, these weren't normal circumstances.
"We had asked to have him interviewed by somebody who is a dedicated forensic interviewer. In other words, that's all they do all day long, versus being busy with investigations and detective work," Mitchell says. "[Dedicated forensic interviewers] are not limited to children and people with developmental disabilities. I would certainly say that a 30-year-old case is one of those situations where you might want to [have a forensic interviewer] look at it."
But Bill Richardson, a retired sex-crimes detective from the Mesa Police Department, disagrees that a forensic interviewer who is accustomed to dealing with juvenile victims is the proper way to go. Further, Richardson, who's handled multiple child sex-abuse cases, says it makes no sense to have a second interview conducted by someone who wasn't the detective who initially spoke to the victim.
"In all sex crimes, trust is the most important thing — the victim needs to trust the detective; [the victim] needs to tell him things he normally wouldn't tell anyone else. It's especially important with male victims, who may be ashamed they were abused by another man," Richardson says. "If the [County Attorney's Office] wanted more information, it's only logical to send [the detective] back in to interview the victim . . . Why would you want to bring a third party into it?"
By sending in someone who specializes in interviewing children to interview an adult, Richardson says, the risk is run that the victim will feel he's being talked down to.
The PPD, Richardson says, holds sex-crimes detectives to very high standards. In other words, to become a sex-crimes detective with the department, a detective must be the best of the best.
"If the issue is the county [prosecutor] doesn't trust these detectives, or doesn't like these detectives, that's a problem," he says. "In this case, [County Attorney] Bill Montgomery signed off on the charges, the sex-crimes unit [of the PPD] signed off on the charges, and a grand jury signed off on the charges. If they needed more information, you send the detective back in, not a third party."
Even Kevin was confused as to why he was re-interviewed by someone other than the detective in whom he'd initially confided.
"I'm wondering what we're doing this for. Why I'm digging up more shit that I don't want to talk about," Kevin told Dutton during her interview. "I'm sure [the detective] is doing his shit right, but if I need to talk to you, I'll talk to you. Because he did really good for me."
Kevin went on to tell Dutton that he'd continue to talk to her but that the two detectives who worked the case were the ones he "totally trusts."