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The state rested its case against Darryl Lierman early Saturday afternoon, and the defense called its first three witnesses.
Due to the jury sequestration, the trial continued on Saturday and will be held again on Monday, despite it being a holiday.
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.
Lierman’s court-appointed attorneys are Doug Stratton and Jason Doele, and the state is represented by Antelope County Attorney Joe Abler, Assistant Antelope County Attorney Joe Smith and Assistant Nebraska Attorney General Sandra Allen.
The state’s key witness — the alleged victim — continued her testimony against Lierman on Saturday morning. She was asked to describe in detail the first alleged sexual assault by Lierman, which she said occurred in Lierman’s bedroom.
She then described another alleged incident in the semi truck he drove for work. The witness said she was traveling with Lierman, and they stopped at a lake, where she went for a swim. She testified that Lierman took photographs of her in her swim suit and asked her to post them online. The witness alleged that in the truck Lierman grabbed her with “a fist full of hair and moved my head back and forth” forcing her mouth onto his genitals.
Smith asked the witness if anything ever happened in the shower other than taking showering. The accuser described a time she was made to shave Lierman’s private area and said, “He taught me how to shave. I didn’t know how.” She said the showers together occurred at truck stops because the “shower at home was small and we both couldn’t fit.”
Smith asked the witness if she talked about the alleged abuse with EMTs or doctors after she took pills. The witness said, “A lot talked to me. I didn’t tell them anything. I didn’t want to rip my family apart. I was scared.” Smith asked when she started talking about the alleged abuse. The witness said she was receiving treatment at Richard Young in Kearney when family therapy began and she tried to tell Lierman that she didn’t want cuddlings or spankings. She said, “He knew what I meant and glared at me.”
At that point, the witness said she still had not disclosed details of the alleged abuse to anyone. Fearing that she was going to be sent home soon, “I started telling them things that had happened because I was scared to go home.” Smith asked the witness about therapy and if the therapists “ever pushed you.” She replied, “No.”
Smith asked about her decision to talk about the alleged abuse. The witness said, “I hadn’t even said anything about what was going on and no one in my family would talk to me or have anything to do with me. I lost hope I would have a family again.”
Smith asked the witness when was the first time she was asked in detail about the alleged abuse. She replied it was during deposition with Lierman’s court appointed attorney Doug Stratton. Smith asked the witness if the deposition was about 400 pages, and she said it was. He asked the length of the time spent on the deposition, which the witness said was two days. When asked if it was easy or hard to do, she said, “Hard.” Smith also asked if anyone else had asked her to “give this many details.” She said, “No.”
During cross examination by Stratton, the witness was asked when she attended school at Pope John. She said from sixth grade to December 2014. He asked if attending the school was easy, and she said, “No.” The attorney asked the witness about competing in sports and her grades. He asked at Pope John if it was important to get good grades, she said, “Yes.” He asked if the witness felt good about herself when she was on the dance team. She said, “Yes.” He asked if she ever felt like she was bullied at the school, and she said, “Yes.” Stratton then asked, “Bullying was not a short-term thing. It was on going, wasn’t it?” The witness said, “Yes.”
Stratton showed the witness a letter that she wrote about bullying. The witness agreed the letter was in her handwriting, but she said the words of who it was addressed to at the beginning and her name at the end was not in her handwriting. When asked when the letter was written, she said it was during or before Christmas break 2014. Stratton asked if she had talked about “a fresh start” and moving to Wisconsin to live with other family. The witness said she wanted to leave to get away from Lierman. When asked if she ever told the family she knew how to get out and “can do what (name removed for privacy) did,” the witness said, “No.”
The attorney asked about the deposition and said during that time the witness never mentioned shaving Lierman or having to lift his stomach to reach his genitals. Stratton asked for clarification on when the first alleged sexual assault was and whether she had to move his stomach. The witness said, “It happened so many times I don’t remember everything.” Stratton then asked for details in the position of the two and if they were “face to face.” The alleged victim said she was not tall enough to be face to face. Stratton said the witness “volunteered this information” during deposition. The witness said it was “hard to remember things because I’ve pushed them out of my mind for so long.”
Stratton asked about the handcuffs, and the witness detailed the first time she was allegedly handcuffed to the bed. Stratton referred to the deposition and read that the witness said sexual intercourse had occurred “more than 20 times.” The witness was asked for details on performing oral sex on Lierman. She said, “I couldn’t breath. Not sure how far it went down (her throat.)”
The witness was asked to detail another alleged assaults while living in Meadow Grove, including during a dirt bike ride. After discussing those details, the witness said some of what she recalled was from dreams of the incident. She said the dreams started after she began talking about the alleged abuse during therapy.
During redirect, Smith asked the witness how she felt after giving the deposition and detailing the alleged abuse. The witness said she was “tired and sick.” When asked about things she remembered in her dreams, the witness said she began journaling them as part of her therapy. Stratton objected to the journal and said it was not disclosed as evidence.
At 11:25 a.m., the jury was excused for lunch. The prosecution and defense discussed the journal, and the judge said he would have an answer after lunch. At 1:09 p.m., the trial was “back on record” with no jury and the attorneys said they had “resolved their differences.” The jury was brought back into the courtroom at 1:13 p.m. The witness was called to finish testifying with Smith’s final redirect taking a matter of minutes.
At 1:20 p.m. Smith rested the state’s case. Stratton said the case “lacks significant evidence” and asked for Lierman to be found “not guilty on all counts.” The motion was denied and the defense called its first witness to the stand after a brief recess — at 1:35 p.m.
Dr. Troy Dawson of Antelope Memorial Hospital was called to discuss treatment of Lierman, which began in 1998-99. Dawson testified that he first treated Lierman for erectile dysfunction in September 2008 and had physical examination at that time. Asked if Lierman was weighed, Dawson said the scales were limited to 350-400 pounds and Lierman “always exceeded our scales.” Dawson said Lierman stated his weight as 480 pounds and said, “I assume he had access to cattle scales.”
Stratton asked about Lierman’s stomach, which was said to be the large fat or skin that overhangs the pelvis, which Stratton said he “always had that issue as a morbidly obese man.” Dawson was asked to describe having to lift up the fatty area to view Lierman’s genital region. Dawson was then asked to describe the size of Lierman’s penis and testicles.
Dawson said at the Sept. 2008 visit, he provided a sample of Levitra, a medication to improve blood flow to treat erection. Dawson said Lierman did not ask for another sample or prescription, so he assumed the pills did not work. Dawson said since it was before he had been charged with sexual assault “he had no reason to lie to me.”
During cross examination, Smith asked Dawson if he had the same opinion as when he testified in the 2011 sexual assault trial against Lierman. Dawson said, “Yes.” Smith then asked about the time Lierman complained the pills weren’t working. After discussion, Dawson agreed that he had been “mistaken” about a conversation that ensued after Lierman was charged with sexual assault.
Smith asked Dawson which urologists he refers his patients to and if Dr. Natvarlal Patel, a Norfolk urologist, was one of them. Dawson said, “Yes.” Smith asked if Dawson prescribed the the medication in 2008 because he thought they would help with an erection. Dawson said, “Yes.” Smith then presented pills that Dawson identified as Viagra and said some were cut in half. As to why people cut pills in half, Dawson said “to lower the dose to minimize the side effects.” When asked if it can be to save money and because half of a dose works, Dawson answered, “Yes.”
The defense then called Peggy Sue Payne, an English teacher at Pope John. Payne testified that the alleged accuser was in one of her classes. When asked if she saw bullying in her classroom, she testified, “No, not in my classroom.”
Betty Getzfred, principal at Pope John and St. Boniface, was then called to testify. Stratton asked her about the protocol for investigating bullying. Getzfred said it is to call the persons involved into her office to hear their sides and to notify the parents of the issue and how it was handled. When asked if there was a report of bullying in the fall of 2014, she replied, “yes.” When asked if she was asked to investigate a bullying incident with the alleged victim, she said yes but did not have an exact date.
Upon an objection of hearsay, the jury was removed from the courtroom and Stratton then presented an “offer of proof” before allowing the jury to return. Getzfred described the incident to which Smith said was all hearsay. Judge Mark Johnson sustained the objection and the jury returned.
Stratton asked if the accuser attended school at Pope John in the fall of 2014. Getzfred said, “Yes.” Asked if the individual was enrolled in 2015, and Getzfred said, “No.” When asked if there was an exit report, Getzfred said, “Yes.” Smith did not cross examine the witness.
Due to difficulty in scheduling witnesses on a Saturday, Judge Johnson adjourned the trial at around 2:45 p.m. and said it would reconvene at 9 a.m. on Monday.