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Tuesday was the first day of testimony in the Darryl Lierman trial in Antelope County District Court.
The jury heard opening statements from the prosecution and defense attorneys, as well as testimony from the state's witnesses -- a former Boys Town therapist, former Neligh Police Officer Lee Cameron, current Neligh Police Chief Mike Wright, and a Norfolk urologist.
The jury is comprised of eight women and four men, plus two alternate jurors -- one woman and one man.
Lierman, 51, is accused of three counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child, two counts of third-degree sexual assault of a child, and three counts of child abuse. He has pleaded not guilty to all eight charges.
Joe Smith, Madison County Attorney and assistant Antelope County Attorney, began the day by giving his opening statement to the jury. Smith spent an hour summarizing the evidence in the case, detailing how one of Lierman's alleged victims didn't disclose the sexual abuse until she suspected she was pregnant, alleged penetration and oral sex with two minors, suicide attempts by Lierman after his initial arrest, and how the alleged victims have been traumatized. He talked about how Lierman faced a similar trial in the past, was found not guilty, was free to return to his home, and allowed to reoffend with a new victim. "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me," Smith said in closing.
Doug Stratton, court-appointed defense attorney, presented his opening statement next. Stratton said this is not the state's chance for a "redo" of the previous case. "What has to be presented to you is actual proof of (the alleged victim's) case," he said. Stratton said Lierman's accuser "was a stubborn, unruly child" who didn't like the rules of the house or the fact that she wasn't allowed to date, and was always fighting with her mom. It was because of this, he said she threatened to do what his previous accuser did.
Patricia Cartledge, a former clinical therapist at the Boys Town Residential Treatment Center, was the first witness called by the state. Smith questioned her about typical reporting behaviors, or disclosure, by child sex abuse victims. "Some children won't disclose at all," Cartledge said. She went on to say that the "cost is far greater" in the case of incest, stating that children may have been threatened, scared to be removed from their home, and for some, it may be the only thing they've ever known because they've grown up with it. Cartledge was then asked about the times she met with the alleged victim in the case. She said she shared the first time they engaged in a sexual act was when Lierman had been arrested and was out on bond living in Meadow Grove. Cartledge said she disclosed that they had intercourse and oral sex on numerous occasions, he would wait in the bathroom for her to come out of the shower, make her sit on his lap while rubbing her private parts, and made her model the new bras he bought for her. She said the alleged victim was often crying with her eyes downcast while sharing these memories. Stratton cross examined the witness, asking if she, as a counselor, did anything to verify the truthfulness of the statements made by the alleged victim. "No, my job is to treat the symptoms," Cartledge replied. She said she did not need to talk to other family members.
The next two witnesses were called to establish the chain of evidence in the case. Former Neligh Police Officer Lee Cameron and current Neligh Police Chief Mike Wright testified to tagging and boxing items found in a consented search of the Lierman home and a nearby semi truck assigned to Lierman. Some of the items entered into evidence included bedroom sheets and comforters, sex toys, pornographic magazines, a laptop, jump drives, DVDs/CDs, semi sleeper bedsheets, pillowcases and comforters, a massager with two black tips, shea butter baby wipes, and writings by the alleged victim.
The final witness of the day was Dr. Natvarlal Patel, a Norfolk urologist. He was called by Smith to testify about erectile dysfunction and medicines that can be used to help the problem. Due to the expensive cost of the medication, such as Viagra, Dr. Patel talked about how he recommends that his patients cut the medicine in half or fourths if the lower dosage is still effective. He said most people taking Viagra will have a full erection, but some may have a partial erection. "Is it true that someone may be able to have an erection with one partner and not another?" Smith asked. Dr. Patel responded, "Yes." The doctor also agreed that there is nothing about Lierman's condition that would interfere with oral sex. On his cross examination, Stratton asked Dr. Patel if hypertension is one of the leading causes of erectile dysfunction and the doctor replied, "Yes." Dr. Patel agreed with Stratton that he does not specifically test his patients for erectile dysfunction, he takes their word for it.
The testimony ended at about 4:10 p.m., and the trial will reconvene with new witnesses tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.
The trial is expected to conclude on or before Jan. 18, according to Judge Mark Johnson.