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Coastguardsman found not guilty on 2 abuse charges, 2 assault charges

Jury hung on 3 remaining counts

Posted: October 2, 2013 - 8:46pm  |  Updated: October 2, 2013 - 9:03pm

The Superior Court Jury handed down its verdict Tuesday for a Coastguardsman charged with sexually abusing a 4-year-old boy.

The jury found John R. Blackman Jr., 32, of Soldotna not guilty of four of the seven charges — two counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and two counts of third-degree assault.

It could not reach a decision on two counts of sexual abuse of a minor and one count of third-degree assault.

A report filed by Soldotna Police on March 5, 2012 alleges Blackman hurt his then live-in girlfriend’s son’s genitals with his fist and abused him physically by punching him in the stomach and throwing him down the stairs.

In closing arguments Friday, Assistant District Attorney Amanda Browning said the boy’s story has been consistent throughout the case.

“(The boy) didn’t hesitate when asked who did it. … He blamed on the defendant the ‘colors on his privates,’” Browning said.

Browning said the boy’s mother may not be “mom of the year,” but that’s not what the case is about.

“This case is not about (the mother),” Browning said. “The defense wants you to think that. They want you to get lost in (the mother) over here so you forget about (the) little (boy) over here.”

Public defender Andy Pevehouse told the jury in his closing arguments the boy testified, “my privates changed colors when I fell from sledding.”

Pevehouse said he doesn’t know that sledding caused the injuries, but “a man’s fist cannot” cause the injuries the boy sustained.

“(The boy) doesn’t even know what happened. … His mom ultimately had five days to work on him and tell him, ‘Here’s what you’re going to tell the police,’” Pevehouse said.

He said he asked investigating officer Sgt. Rory Espy to explain how the boy could explain why the bruising happened during a Child Advocacy Center interview with Espy.

“A 4-year-old shouldn’t be able to tell you why it happened and (the boy) could. … ‘Because Johnny doesn’t love me anymore,’” Pevehouse said. “Does that sound like the words of a 4-year-old? Or does that sound like the words of a mom who just got dumped?”

Pevehouse said that the boy, and kids in general, say “all kinds of things,” and it’s important in a case that deals with a person’s life to have “something more that just the word of a 4-year-old.”

“I submit that there’s clear evidence of coaching in that (CAC interview) video,” he said, “coaching from Mom plus some leading, prompting by Sgt. Espy.”

In her rebuttal, Browning said the boy never said the bruising came from sledding.

“(The boy) said, ‘Johnny hurt my pee pee,’” Browning said. “That’s the most accurate statement. It’s a statement that came by (the boy) immediately after these events.”

She said the events weren’t made up.

“If you want to get somebody on a sex charge wouldn’t you make up a story … of masturbating in front of a child, masturbating a child? … This is a real sex case,” Browning said.

Browning said Blackman pushed against they boy’s genitals with his fist.

“(Blackman) did it in January (2012), and he did it again in February (2012) because of his guilty conscience, he left work and ran home to stop that child from talking.”

Blackman was found not guilty of a second-degree assault charge in June 2013. Blackman had been accused of holding the boy’s head underwater in a bathtub. Prosecution dismissed a charge of tampering with physical evidence in August 2012.

According to the police report, the boy’s mother had noticed and become suspicious of bruises on her son in January 2012.

Blackman is out of custody. He has a pre-trial conference scheduled for Oct. 24 for the three remaining charges in the case.

 

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

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