Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

By Donna Westfall – June 20, 2017 – By the end of Day 5, I’d swear that the Prosecution Team is trying to wear down the jury.  Gotta wonder if they hand out No-Doz pills because I don’t know how the jurors manage to stay awake.  I couldn’t.  I found myself trying to stay awake, but after my head kept drooping, I was concerned that I might start snoring.  I left the courtroom before Judy Ranger’s testimony concluded for the day, went home and instantly fell asleep.

I noticed that some of the jurors take a lot of  notes and many don’t seem to. This being my first time to witness a real life juried case, it’s not like court room drama’s on TV or in the movies. This is a very, very slow moving process primarily to lay the foundation that the prosecution have dotted all their “i’s” and crossed all their “t’s.” as you’ll see from today’s witnesses.  However, because of their choice of people they put in the witness box over the last 5 days, the lies are starting to stand out, at least in my mind.

Here’s the line-up of witnesses from morning until 4:30 in the afternoon. I’m going to pull a Chairman Chris Howard from the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors and take them out of order like he does with his agenda.

“Expert” witnesses:  The nurse at St. Josephs and the domestic violence guy currently heading up security for the San Francisco 49’s.

Starting with David Boffi.  Quick note: It’s a good thing the clerks in the courtroom have the witnesses spell their names.  Mr. Boffi’s claim is as an expert in DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.  While the Defense Attorney, William Cater, pointed out his objection to Mr. Boffi’s testifying because this was not a domestic violence case, no charges had every been brought against Bryan Ranger for domestic violence and no one ever witnessed physical abuse by Bryan Ranger against his wife, Judy Ranger; the prosecution still wanted to make a case about the power of control and domestic violence. Judge Spinetta overruled Cater’s objection and Boffi was allowed to be questioned after stating his long list of accomplishments, experience and qualifications.

The prosecution flew Boffi in to Crescent City, at taxpayers expense, where he arrived late.  His testimony was not concluded by the end of Day 5, so he has to stay over in our fair city and be first up on Wednesday morning, Day 6. When Connie Morrison, a member of the local taxpayers association complained to the Board of Supervisors during her three minute public comment a couple months ago, about all the money that is being spent on this case and having Bryan Ranger locked up for four years, no one considered all the money that was being spent by the prosecution’s side.  In my rough guesstimate of monies spent so far, we’re probably looking at several million dollars and climbing.  Boffi is being reimbursed for his expenses but otherwise is donating his testimony which was good to hear.

Next expert witness:  Traci Dona Conner, is a registered nurse for 11 years, with 10 years as a SART (Sexual Abuse Response Team) examiner. Although she has attended seminars in her field, she has not taught any and has never published. However, Defense Attorney Cater, did not object and the court declared the witness qualified and I’m thinking, Oh Boy!  Finally something juicy.  But, no. She wasn’t there to say she met or examined any of the Ranger children because she hadn’t.  She was there to explain why a SART exam would not always be conducted on sexual survivors.

Here’s the skinny:  She’s worked in the sex unit for the past six years at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Humboldt County.  The process involved with sexual abuse is started when they get a phone call from law enforcement.  The victim is brought in along with anyone from family or a friend to render emotional support.  Two nurses conduct the exam together.  There’s a special place at St. Joe’s where the exam’s are conducted. They take an oral history first.  Then they collect forensic evidence.  They use cotton tip swabs and wipe the body and submit what they collect to the crime lab.

Typically they are looking for semen, saliva, hair or anything that would be questionable.

Question from Prosecutor Joyce Blair:  Do they do an internal exam if the survivor has no memory of the event?

Answer:  Yes, they do with adult survivors, but no, they try not to insert a speculum with special lighting into a sexual survivor of rape in a girl under 14 years old because it’s traumatic.

Huh? If you break a bone, that’s traumatic.  But you have to get the bone set. That’s traumatic but necessary.  If one is raped, that’s traumatic, but doesn’t it make sense that an internal exam would be mandatory… traumatic or not?

Next the witness explained why a SART exam is not always done by describing the difference between “acute” and “non-acute.”

Timing is everything.  Acute means that an exam is conducted within 72 hours and this is the prime time.  Non-acute is anything greater than 72 hours. The most time between the event and an exam is about three weeks because any biological evidence they could have been collected would most likely be gone.  Showers wash away evidence.  The area is highly vascularized which means that there are lots of blood vessels internally which promote quick healing. Tiny scratches and scrapes heals within days.

Then the witness dispelled some of the myths about being able to tell if a girl was a virgin because the hymen was or was not intact.

At least her testimony seemed to answer the question previously referred to as sloppy police work about not ordering a SART exam.

However, it doesn’t explain why Mercy lied and kept secret having sexual intercourse with Marcus Nash when she was 14-16 years old and he was over 40. Had she told the truth and submitted to an exam, then there would be proof positive who’s semen was inside of her.  Her lie was telling the dependency court that Marcus was like a brother to her when she knew darn well he was much more. Despite phone records proving they talked much more frequently than she let on, Judge Follett believed her. Here’s where the discrepancies start mounting up.

The court has now heard from five Ranger kids.  Four of them testified that they understood the difference between the truth and a lie. Four of them testified that they ate primarily oatmeal and canned vegetables. Their ages:  21, 19, 18, 17 and 10. In addition to the four children relating this, two adoptive mothers confirmed that that’s what they were told by these children and parroted the same thing; oatmeal and canned vegetables.

Witness Erica Moore testified because Mercy lived with her for 30 days from late January to late February 2012.  She believed Mercy when she served the young lady a SALAD and Mercy said that she never eaten a salad at home.  Also, she thought Mercy came directly to her home after the event of December 29, 2011.  Mercy did not tell her she spent the first 30 days with Sasha and Earl Upton before staying with her.  So, when Mercy would wake up at night, every night with night terrors and screaming and hearing her slowly relate the sexual abuse by her father, Bryan Ranger, Erica Moore believed it.  When asked if she heard about Marcus Nash, she replied, “I don’t remember.”

Erica contacted law enforcement and Child Welfare Services.  Erica Moore is a teacher, and therefore a mandated reporter. However, after 30 days, Mercy was taken from her home because Social Worker, Georgia England, told Erica she was too emotionally involved.

Let’s look at what I would call discrepancies or lies: (NOTE: the 17 year old Ranger boy told me this outside of court)Social Worker, Georgia England, did not take any pictures on December 29, 2011 of the contents of the refrigerator, freezer or cupboards, nor did she take any in subsequent follow-up visits. Further, the 17 year old said they didn’t eat oatmeal every day.  Often they would have pancakes or eggs and bacon.  As far as meats, they ate turkey, chicken and fish.  Lunches included sandwiches made with bread and luncheon meat.   He told me one of his sisters liked to make “ants on a log.”  He described it as celery with peanut butter and raisins on top. But concluded that his mom’s  oatmeal was delicious.








5 thoughts on “Day 5: Bryan Ranger “Sex Abuse” Trial”
  1. Established at trial is that Mercy was an extrovert, very happy and outgoing. This continued throughout the time period in which rape allegedly occurred. I have a hard time believing in allegations of a childhood rape that caused little or no mental trauma at the time, but goes into hyper drama trauma so many years later. The drama trauma coincided precisely with her desire to live with people who gave her the freedoms she desired.

    Although it’s true that some kids are intimidated from reporting right away, there is usually some signs; quietness, withdrawal, depression. But not happy and outgoing, and not wanting to immediately have a sexual relationship with a 40 year old man. Something’s wrong.

    1. apparently Wes, you were not in the court room when Dr. Urquiza who is an expert witness in sexual child assault accommodation syndrome. Had you been in the court room you may have “learned” a few things about child sexual assault. Picking out words “extrovert” to make a valid point is a liberal point of view. What, you think people who are sexually assaulted should stay victimized all their lives? And just because she is outgoing doesn’t mean she has overcome the trauma…it means she has suppressed it.

      1. Are you referring to the expert paid by the prosecution for a very specific conclusive opinion? What I have “learned” over the years is that “experts” are paid to present a very specific and biased opinion in exchange for money. Lots of it. I prefer to follow the evidence. The evidence establishes she had a sexual relationship with a 40 year old man and lied to cover it.

        To the contrary, there are countless cases where baseless allegations of sexual misconduct are alleged for collateral advantage. Accepting ‘expert’ opinion as absolute, while discounting any possibility of motives, shows bias.

        So she “suppressed” her trauma by having a sexual love affair with a 40 year old man? I’m not buying it. And the trauma conveniently surfaces when she wants her freedom? I’m not buying it. Believe what you want.

        1. Expert witnesses are paid indeed. Do you think that everything is for free? It is not. Just because prosecution had to pay for an expert to take time off of his personal schedule, fly to Del norte county, get a hotel room, and testify, that means he was paid. That is crazy to even suggest that his expert opinion is primarily for the benefit to prosecute the defendant. ESPECIALLY, when the expert doesn’t know anything about the case other than the name of the case.

          Wes nunn suggested I am biased on this case because the oldest daughter had a relationship at the age of 14 with a man who was 40. First off, that was rape, not a relationship. Secondly, due to the sexual priming of her father since the age of 5, Mercy’s idea of sex was created as a normal act because it was accepted in her family and instigated by her father. Additionally, the other children had to perform sexual acts on each other at a young age as well, which was admitted by Ezra. But Wes Nunn would have you to believe they were all lying.

          Well birds of a feather hang together. Very telling. And unless you heard the testimony of the expert witness, you are as uneducated as Bryan Ranger to believe that Bryan Ranger’s motives and control was based on his narcissistic point of view and all in the name of Jesus.

  2. although the charges are not based upon domestic violence what occurred in the home was a form of domestic violence and David Boffi, who is a specialist in this subject matter was spot on…the prosecution more than likely educated the jurors to lay a foundation of the continued abuse of the home….AND, MR. CATER allowed it, but after the first day of Boffi’s testimony, cater realized he screwed up and would not allow the Domestic Violence Wheel to be presented to the Jury.

    In regards to the SART NURSE. What is unconscionable is the fact that Del Norte County does not have an on duty SART nurse and women who have been sexually assaulted usually have to lay around in the semen for up to 48 hours until a SART nurse from Eureka can show up. In any case, you don’t need to get physical evidence on children who have been sexually abused to prove that they have been as you would have seen in the Testimony of Dr. Anthony Urquiza who specializes in pediatric sexually abused children for 30 years.

    “One of the myths was, at least I recall — as I recall as a child I was often told to be wary of strangers and don’t take candy from strangers. With regard to child sexual abuse, we know that very few children are sexually abused by a stranger. Sometimes it happens, but most children are sexually abused by someone with whom they have an ongoing relationship, some type of acquaintance.

    One of the misperceptions, if your child is sexually abused, you’ll go run and tell your mommy, daddy, teacher. Again, we know from research sometimes it happens, but much more typical for there to be some strategy placed upon the child to be quiet, and that strategy is quite effective in keeping kids quiet for a long time, sometimes throughout their whole childhood. Sometimes kids sexually abused don’t disclose until adulthood.

    The common characteristic if your child has been sexually abused, they’ll be extremely traumatized, crying. So the expectation is if you’re going to talk or disclose being sexually abused, you will be crying, distraught, when in fact there appears to be a lot of evidence to support the fact that kids, after a while exactly, get into one of the issues, accommodate, or get used to the experience of being sexually abused, that their experience of the feelings they have associated with being sexually abused — I don’t want to say they become normalized — but they’re not as traumatized or those feelings aren’t as acute.

    As a result, when they make the disclosure, it’s not unusual for kids to make it in a somewhat matter-of-fact or detached from the feelings they have, so they don’t look acutely distraught and crying. Clearly, there are kids who disclose and are distressed.

    In order to understand secrecy, I think it’s important to understand the context in which sexual abuse happens. It’s a relationship. As I said earlier, usually children are sexually abused by somebody they know, an ongoing relationship.
    That’s important because children tell us there’s been some strategy imposed upon them to keep them quiet about the abuse, hence the term secrecy.
    The strategy can be lots of different things. It can be an overt threat. It can be, you know, if you tell, then you’ll go to jail or I’ll kill you or I’ll kill your mom or dad or you. there’s some type of coercive strategy imposed upon the child to keep them quiet about the victimization.

    Kids also tell us that they are bribed, provided special gifts, talked about having a special relationship, so that they perceive that could be an important relationship to them. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an overt threat.

    What I often explain to parents and children who come to therapy is clearly if a child is being threatened, then a smart thing to do if you’re that child would be to comply if the person who’s threatening is bigger and stronger. But sometimes it can be a covert threat. If you see somebody beat up your mom and that person comes into your bedroom at night and wants to do something, then you know you should comply. And so kids often comply with overtures to be molested.

    I think the other part related to that, also part of manipulation, kids often feel like they could get in trouble if they were to disclose, and it’s a topic that is not easy to talk about.

    HELPLESSNESS- if you’re threatened to be quiet, don’t talk about the abuse, and you have ongoing contact with somebody who is both bigger, stronger, more powerful, and who has access to you, then that reinforces the notion that it’s a really good idea for you to be quiet about the abuse, to not talk about the abuse. if the perpetrator is somebody who’s bigger, stronger, and in their family, then they have a fair amount of control over what the child does or says or to be able to reinforce any type of threat that was made. And so even though the child may care about and may even love the person with whom they’re being abused, doesn’t negate the accommodation syndrome. It’s not uncommon for kids to have both a sense of like or enjoyment in the relationship they have with the perpetrator, sometimes even to love the person that is abusing them, and to be sexually abused by that person.

    children who have a caregiver who is in some way incapacitated are at greater risk to be sexually abused. And the example I often use is with a mother whose responsibility it may be to protect the child, a mother who is an alcoholic, may do a relatively poor job of supervising the child, may fraternize with people who have more problems or maybe are somewhat unseemly, and so the child would have more contact with someone like that.
    All those things, or those two things, serve to diminish the parent’s ability to protect the child or ensure their safety. And so if there is some incapacity of the ability of the care-giving environment, like a mom or dad or baby-sitter or whatever, that would put the child at greater risk, make the child more vulnerable more helpless.

    ENTRAPMENT ACCOMODATION. Entrapment and accommodation, the entrapment part is pretty simple. If a child is being sexually abused — and we’re describing what happened to a child who’s been sexually abused or taking as an assumption the child has been sexually abused — if the child is sexually abused and can’t do anything to stop it, that’s helplessness, and can’t tell anybody, that’s the secrecy. They’re trapped.

    And one of the things that occurs to kids when they’re sexually abused, there are a lot of unpleasant feelings like being ashamed, a sense of humiliation, or disgust, sometimes fear, sometimes even like confusion, not being old enough or appreciating what’s happening to them. And what we’re finding in the mental health field, for kids who are sexually abused, especially kids who are sexually abused at least a few times, that they become somewhat numbed to a lot of those feelings because it’s too difficult for them to tolerate.

    We’ve seen that in other types of people who experience traumatic events, and the most common, frequent one is veterans where they have a numbing of a lot of the feelings that they have relating to the experiences that were too difficult for them to bear at the time. Even twenty years later, they still have somewhat of a numbing, and it’s really somewhat of a protective factor.

    Well, kids do the same thing. They think anybody who has experience of really horrible things happen to them, it’s a common process that occurs, and so this process of accommodation really is this experience of trying to maybe compartmentalize a lot of the feelings that they have about the victimization experiences.
    it’s not uncommon for kids to have a relationship outside of victimization with the perpetrator, and as a result, it’s not uncommon for kids to like the person who’s abusing them, especially if that person, outside of that relationship, is somebody who they care about, spend time with, does fun things with them.

    Sometimes incestuous — if you’re being sexually abused by mother, father, or big brother, it’s not uncommon for kids to love that person because they need to love caregivers because that’s what we do in families.
    So it’s easy to sort of question why would you go back? Why would you spend time with that person if that person was also sexually abusing you? But I think that’s somewhat of a narrow perspective what goes on in sexually abusive relationship.

    DELAYED DISCLOSURE Delayed disclosure is quite simple, the misperception is you’re sexually abused, you’ll tell somebody right away. We now know and sometimes that happens; I mean, sometimes kids are approached, they’re sexually abused, and immediately go and tell somebody. That actually is something that happens a minority of times. What the research shows it is quite common for kids to have a delay in time from when they are first sexually abused to when they are actually able to disclose that they have been sexually abused.

    What that means is a couple of things, and primarily, that whatever strategy that was imposed upon them in this issue of secrecy must be pretty effective if they can keep kids quiet about their sexual abuse for a significant period of time. So the notion kids will tell right away is really not a common thing. It is really uncommon that kids tell right away.

    Unconvincing disclosure-disclosure not to think of sexual abuse not so much as The best way to describe this unconvincing an act but a process and by process, it is that it is a really hard thing to talk about. Sexuality is often difficult for us to talk about. Victimization is difficult. And if your child, who perhaps were threatened or perhaps feel embarrassed or humiliated or have different feelings about the experience you participated in, you can imagine it’s really hard to put yourself in a position to tell somebody else about that.

    And so what we found is that kids who go through this process of disclosure often will say something — are often somewhat vague will provide some information. If they’re responded to positively or supportively, they may say more, and as time goes on, they may tell more and more and more about their victimization experience over different iterations over different periods of time.

    They also may make some minor mistakes about disclosure. If you have somebody that says five or four different times, they’re not exactly alike every single time, then they may look unconvincing. we now have research to support, this process of disclosure may ultimately look like the child was not telling the truth or unconvincing in their description of what happened to them because they’re not identical every single time. They don’t provide these verbatim descriptions what happens with regard to their sexual victimization. I think that’s part of the process or that you may not be completely consistent, you may not be able to articulate clearly the first time what happened, and so it may take a couple of times before a child is able to provide some kind of a description about what happened to them in their victimization. In some recent studies by Elliott Briar or Briar Elliott. They found, basically, about three quarters of kids had failed to disclose the first twelve months from when they were abused to when they disclosed, essentially, saying most kids — well, two things, very similar. We shouldn’t expect that kids will disclose right away although some kids do. We shouldn’t expect the kids will disclose right away and some kids have some significant delay by the time they’re eventually able to disclose.

    RETRACTION- Again, we’re talking about children who have been sexually abused, and what he found was there are a small percentage of people, children, or percentage of children who have been sexually abused who made a disclosure who then took back the allegation of the abuse. Pressures put on by the family or pressures put on by the child to keep quiet about the abuse for a variety of reasons results in the child retracting allegations of abuse.” This was not quite the end of Dr. Urquiza’s testimony but definitely the most important part.

    The Ranger Children demonstrated all of those characteristics throughout their testimony. Their stories were consistent, unprovoked or lead.

    Tomorrow closing arguments. This case is a tragedy, it was a learning experience that you couldn’t pay for in a University both on the Domestic Violence presentation and the Child Sexual abuse expert witness.

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