Dad SAMMY COHEN is on trial for sexually abusing his daughter. Note the typical defense attorney hostility and sarcasm directed towards the victim--unfortunately, the defense attorney point of view has become the dominant cultural viewpoint. Which is why a lot of victims refuse to prosecute because they feel they will not be able to withstand being revictimized in court. This is one very brave young woman to try to confront an ex-cop dad in court, because frankly, the cards are stacked against her. Juries just don't want to believe that cops or dads do these things (e.g. classic denial), which gives molester dads a lot of cover.
Jury hears, sees details of molestation charges against ex-cop
DAUGHTER: Mother never knew; defense claims story is a lie.
By DEBRA McKINNEY
Published: September 24th, 2009 09:37 PM
Last Modified: September 25th, 2009 12:07 AM
Sammy Cohen's daughter flew halfway across the world, from active duty in Iraq, to tell an Anchorage jury that her ex-cop father molested her and took pictures of her topless and naked when she was 14.
Now 23, she took the stand wearing military fatigues, her black hair pulled back neatly in a bun. She answered the prosecutor's basic questions with standard-issue "Yes, sir," "No, sir" and "Roger."
The more personal ones, she answered with long, difficult pauses as a room full of strangers stared straight at her. She fidgeted. She sighed. She struggled to keep her composure and finally lost it when asked why she didn't tell her mother about the abuse.
She paused a long time before answering, then leaned into the microphone.
"I didn't want her to think bad of me," she said. "I didn't want anyone to know."
Cohen, 55, was an 11-year Anchorage police officer teaching at the police academy when he was arrested in 2005 on 21 charges: 10 counts of second-degree abuse of a minor, five counts of exploiting a minor and six counts of possessing child pornography. His first trial ended in a mistrial last year before testimony began.
After more than a week of jury selection and procedural matters, his second trial got under way Thursday morning.
As prosecutor John Skidmore outlined the state's case, Cohen, who is ex-military, sat at attention, hair closely cropped, with a bald spot and a well-groomed mustache, looking tan and fit. Other than being the discipline dispenser, Cohen didn't pay much attention to his daughter until she reached puberty, Skidmore told the jury. After that came escalating gawking and groping.
He'd comment on how nicely her breasts were developing. He'd offer to help her dry off after a shower. He'd have wrestling matches with her and her sister.
"He insisted she and her sister take their shirts off when they wrestled because, you know, he didn't want them to get too hot," Skidmore said.
He bought her "lingerie."
"I use that word intentionally because I'm not talking about going to Fred Meyer and buying your little girl Disney panties," Skidmore said. "No, no, no. I'm talking about lingerie. Matching bra and panty sets made of materials like satin."
And he'd have her try them on.
"He sits down on her bed, and a good three or four feet away, has his 13- or 14- year-old daughter strip naked in front of him and put on a bra and panty set ... You know, just to make sure it fits."
"But that's not the end of it," Skidmore kept saying, as he piled on the creepy allegations.
Skidmore told the jurors they'd be hearing testimony from other victims, underage at the time, including one who claims Cohen gave her alcohol and then sexually assaulted her when he was in his late 20s and she had just turned 15.
When the defense's turn came, Cohen's attorney, John Cashion, made it clear he didn't appreciate Skidmore's sarcasm.
He told the jury that Cohen was no predator. He was a 22-year retired veteran of the National Guard, a devoted patriot, and a committed police officer and father who tried to make a stable home for his family.
His daughter had behavioral issues, he said. And school issues. She needed a lot of attention and counseling.
When Cohen's now second ex-wife got an overseas teaching job with the Department of Defense, she moved to Europe with the girls. When the daughter got into some trouble there -- Cashion said he didn't know what kind, only that military police were involved -- the abuse story came out.
She's trying to escape responsibility for what she's done, he said. So she blames the one person who's not there to defend himself.
During openings, with Cohen's daughter not yet in the room, Skidmore showed some of the photos to the jury, projecting them onto a screen turned away so people in the spectator section of the courtroom couldn't see it. They showed her in various positions, he said. Arms at her side. Arms out. Arms up the way cops make bad guys do in the movies.
"He comes over to her and poses her, places her arms in the positions he wanted, her legs, her feet, and tries to get her to smile. He poses her like this, and this, and this, and this ..."
Cashion told the jury he doesn't know who took those pictures, some clothed, some topless, some naked, but it wasn't Sammy Cohen. She may have taken them herself, he said. She was in trouble and made up the abuse stories to redirect the heat, then created photographic evidence to back her tale.
"(She) is a confused girl and a manipulator," he said.
And those other alleged victims are not going to pan out, he predicted.
"This trial should not be about mockery," Cashion said. "The nature of the charges in this case are far too serious. Sammy Cohen did not violate the trust that we put in him as a soldier. He didn't violate the trust we put in him as a policeman. And he didn't violate the trust given every father. He is not guilty of every charge in this case."
The trial continues Monday.