Closing arguments were presented to the Superior Court jury at Kenai Courthouse today during the trial for a case alleging a United States Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class sexually abused a 4-year-old boy.
John R. Blackman Jr., 32, is charged with four counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, one count of second-degree assault and three counts of third-degree assault. All counts are felony charges dating back to incidents alleged to have occurred between January and March 2012. The boy’s mother had been dating and living with Blackman in Soldotna with her three sons (including the alleged victim) and Blackman’s daughter on his custody days since October 2011.
Assistant District Attorney Angela Garay’s argument focused on the investigating Soldotna police officer’s interview with the alleged victim, which was previously presented to the jury. She said in the interview with the police officer, the boy was asked non-leading questions that allowed him to come up with his own answers about allegedly being abused by Blackman.
Garay argued that Blackman’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Andy Pevehouse, repeatedly asked the victim questions, when he was on the witness stand, until the boy changed his answer.
The DA spoke to the jury about the victim’s mother, who told the jury, while she was on the witness stand, Blackman was controlling. Garay reminded the jury that all the injures presented to the court were on hidden areas on the victim’s body.
“It’s interesting that Mr. Blackman, being in the Coast Guard, would do that to a child,” Garay said. … “When he couldn’t control (the boy), he abused him.”
Pevehouse’s closing statements allege the victim’s mother coached her son to accuse Blackman of abusing him.
He alluded to the victim’s mother being upset about her breakup with Blackman, and that she told the boy what to say to the investigating officer.
“Why is (the boy) willing, in March (2012) right after (the victim’s mother) and (Blackman) break up, why is (the boy) willing to ascribe all of these bad things to John Blackman?” Pevehouse said to the jury. … “The kid’s been coached.”
“Mom (the victim’s mother) wanted to get married,” Pevehouse said. “Mom wanted a great guy with a great family … (who has a) great job, (who is) good with the kids. Of course, (the boy’s mother) wanted to hang onto that. And, of course, when things went south, … of course, Mom was mad.”
Pevehouse said he didn’t know where the bruises came from. He reiterated some of the theories presented by Blackman and the defense’s witnesses about how the boy might have been injured — a sledding crash, toys in the bed, getting caught in his pants zipper.
“That’s an innocent man theorizing, brainstorming, trying to figure out what the source of injury is because that’s what people do, people who are concerned,” Pevehouse said. … “They brainstorm for (the boy’s) safety to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
After Pevehouse made his argument to the jury, Garay spoke again, stressing that the boy’s mother would not make up an accusation like this. If she created a story, Garay said, it would be that she walked in and saw Blackman touching her son inappropriately or making her son touch him inappropriately.
“Isn’t that the story we’re all used to hearing?” she said to the jury. “If she’s making it up, that would be the story you would hear. … In this case, the facts are very unique. What Mr. Blackman was doing was not your typical sexual gratification, but it was sexual violence. … It was not something that was planted in (the boy’s) mind.”
Charges in this case were originally filed on March 5, 2012. The complaint reports that the victim’s mother found “suspicious bruising” on her 4-year-old son. According to the report, the boy was seen by a registered sexual assault nurse examiner who also found “significant bruising” on the boy’s neck, arms, back, legs and genitals.
The report states the mother of the boy believed her ex-boyfriend was responsible for the bruising, and she became suspicious of him in February.
According to the report, the victim was interviewed about the allegations and told the interviewing officer that Blackman and abused him multiple times.
Blackman is out of custody awaiting a verdict from the 12-person superior court jury.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.