Lawyer for Epsom mother accused of sexual assault aims to show victim has propensity for lying
An Epsom mother who believes she’s been wrongfully accused of sexually assaulting her son is preparing to answer at trial the question presented to her by investigators: Why would the boy lie?
Deborah Furst’s lawyer argued in court yesterday that one woman is uniquely qualified to help answer that question: Judy Parys, Furst’s estranged wife whom she was in the process of divorcing when the allegations were made. Attorney Robert Hunt said Parys had sole custody of their son when he reported being abused, and the lawyer pointed to a comment made by the boy in an October 2012 interview as reason to be concerned about his truthfulness.
“The interviewer asked the minor child, ‘Did someone tell you to say these things or did they really happen?’ And the minor child replied, ‘It really did happen, and I know that Judy would never do something like that,’ ” Hunt said. “But nobody had asked him if Judy Parys had told him to say anything.”
Hunt asked Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler yesterday to order the deposition of Parys and also to review the child’s medical and educational records to see whether there is a history of fabricating stories or being susceptible to coaching.
Furst has been accused of assaulting the now-10-year-old boy numerous times from 2006, when he was 3 years old, through November 2012. The indictments detail abuse in Concord, Newbury and Bradford, and say Furst touched the boy’s buttocks and penis several times.
The charges came in two batches. Furst was charged in September 2012 and then again in January, with the newer indictments coming after the boy sat down for another interview with officials, according to Hunt.
The lawyer said yesterday that the boy’s story has changed between those two sessions and that while he first described the abuse as happening in the same place each time, he later said Furst also touched him at restaurants while Parys was present. Hunt also raised concern with other elements of the boy’s story and said that for the last seven months covered by the indictments Furst didn’t have contact with her son.
In making his case to Smukler, Hunt said the boy’s records and Parys’s deposition could potentially show what kind of environment the boy grew up in and whether that environment resulted in a propensity to lie or a vulnerability to coaching.
Smukler, who could decide to review the medical records himself and then provide relevant parts to the lawyers, didn’t rule on Hunt’s motions yesterday. But the judge seemed initially skeptical about what the documents would add.
“You want me to see if a child 3½ to 10 years old ever lied?” Smukler asked the lawyer, offering a laugh when Hunt said that wasn’t quite right.
Hunt said he’s looking for more than just clear examples of the boy lying or being swayed by others.
“The tendency to fabricate, it goes a little further. The question is, ‘What kind of environment was the child in?’ ” said Hunt, who has described the couple’s 33-year relationship as one in which Parys repeatedly emotionally abused Furst.
“You don’t need the records for that,” Smukler said. “Your client lived it.”
Prosecutor Rachel Harrington argued against the need for a deposition yesterday, saying Parys has already sat down for an hour and a half interview with the Bradford Police Department. That interview has been turned over to the defense. Harrington said Hunt is on a “fishing expedition” and is only looking for a chance to cross-examine a witness before trial.
“(Parys) provided a substantial amount of material about background and just general time frame, what she could recall,” Harrington said. “As the defense counsel indicated, we’re talking about pattern charges that span years. So there is no indication that she remembers any more details about these time periods than she was able to provide to the Bradford Police Department.”
On the question of medical records, Harrington said she’s provided Hunt with the one report she’s in possession of, a July 2012 interview between the boy and a doctor after the allegations were made. She said that she has had no reason to think any further records were relevant.
She also called Hunt’s request overly broad, saying that all medical and educational records would include everything down to attendance history.
The case is scheduled for trial in May.