NO EVIDENCE, NO JURY, NO JUSTICE
THE WRONGFUL CONVICTION OF JEREMY BARNEY
THE CAIT FORENSIC INTERVIEWS
On November 5, 2003, at the Charlotte Hungerford Hospital Center for Youth and Families, in Torrington, CT, Angela and Jesse were interviewed individually by the Child Abuse Investigation Team of Northwestern Connecticut (CAIT). The interviews were conducted by Kathi Legare, MSW, and were videotaped, behind a one-way mirror, by a camera in an adjoining observation room. [4A]
Jesse disclosed no information regarding incest, but Angela detailed numerous sexual acts with Carson, most of which occurred in Jeff’s and Julie’s bedroom bedroom, frequently when Carson babysat.
CAIT: What did Carson do to you?
ANGELA: Like, he’d put his private — like, the two flaps would be open, and he would put his — this is his private [holds out the index finger of her right hand], and this is the flaps that open [makes a V-shape with the index and middle fingers of her left hand] — and he’d do that, and then he’d rub it up and down [motions that his penis rubs up and down against her labia].
CAIT: The flaps of what, sweetie?
ANGELA: My private.
CAIT: The flaps of your private. And how many times did he do that to you?
ANGELA: Lots of times.
CAIT: Lots of times. And who was there when he did that to you?
ANGELA: Nobody. ‘Cause I was being babysat and Dad was at work.
CAIT: And who was babysitting you?
When asked by the interviewer to define “sex,” Angela responded with what sounds like a parent’s explanation: “It’s a way you show your love with another person. It’s kind, and it’s supposed to be nice.” Repeating sentiments expressed by her mother and brother in police interviews a week prior,[4B] Angela tried dutifully to describe being molested by her brother as just another form of love. It appears important to Angela that the interviewer should understand this “love” is different than what was supposed to have happened with Jeremy.
CAIT: What did Carson say to you when he did that stuff to you?
ANGELA: He said, ‘I’ve fallen madly in love with you,’ and all that.
Unfortunately for Angela and Jesse, CAIT was uninterested in further investigating factual incest in the _X_ home. CAIT was seeking only to corroborate fictional allegations against Jeremy Barney.
This should not have been the case. The very day before the interviews, the State’s forensic medical examinations showed that Angela still retained her hymen. This proved that she had not been raped, and it should have also cast grave doubt on the rest of the allegations made by Jeff and Julie. The forensic medical exam had further shown that Carson’s anal and rectal injuries had increased in number and severity after his last contact with Jeremy, which should have aroused suspicions as to who was injuring all three of the children’s anal and rectal areas.
Moreover, in the seventeen days between Megan Barney’s call to the hotline on October 19, 2003, and the children’s forensic interviews on November 5, Jeff and Julie _X_ kept all three of their children home from school, during which time — as evidenced by their phone calls to DCF and police — Jeff and Julie “questioned” them, literally day and night, regarding fictional sexual assaults by Jeremy. [4C]
Despite the medical findings, however, and despite the children’s seventeen days of parental coaching, CAIT would subject both Angela and Jesse to hours of interviews in which they were forced to “recall” dozens of rapes and other violent assaults invented by their parents.
That said, for all the at-home preparation, little Jesse, come time for his interview, was still somewhat confused about the story he was supposed to tell.
CAIT: What did [Jeremy] do to you, honey?
JESSE: He did gay stuff to me.
CAIT: He did gay stuff?
JESSE: Mmm hmm.
CAIT: What does that mean?
JESSE: I don’t know, but I — I can’t really remember.
CAIT: Well, when did you hear the word “gay”? What does “gay” mean?
CAIT: It means “sex”?
JESSE: Mmm hmm.
CAIT: Do you know what sex is?
JESSE: No. Uh, well, I know that he did it to me.
CAIT: Okay. So, what do you do sex with? What do you need to do sex?
JESSE: Hmm? I don’t really get that.
CAIT: You don’t really get that? You said that he “did sex to you.”
JESSE: Mmm hmm.
CAIT: What did he use to do sex to you?
JESSE: His body.
CAIT: His body?
JESSE: Mmm hmm.
Not to be discouraged, the CAIT interviewer went on to help Jesse name various body parts that might be used in “gay stuff” and, with the use colored markers and an illustration of a naked child,[4D] the interviewer was soon able to construct a nearly plausible story of the alleged assaults.
CAIT: Did [Jeremy] ever touch you anywhere with his private?
CAIT: Okay, can you use a different color — or any color — I won’t pick a color for you. But can you use a different color, and can you circle on the pictures where he touched you with his penis? Or, his private — sorry.
JESSE: It’s okay. I don’t care…. [Inaudible…]
CAIT: Did he touch you anywhere else with his private?
JESSE: This one, twice. [Circles something on the paper.]
CAIT: And where else did he touch you with his private–anywhere?
JESSE: Uh uh. [Meaning, no.]
CAIT: Did he have you use your hands to touch his private?
CAIT: Can you circle your hands for me?
JESSE: [Holds hands out to interviewer.]
CAIT: On the picture.
JESSE: … [Inaudible] different color?
CAIT: No, ‘cause that’s what, that’s what touched his private, right?
JESSE: Oh. [Giggles.]
Jesse’s story was ultimately short on details, but Angela’s more than compensated. When these details were not contrary to the medical evidence, however, they were unbelievable for numerous other reasons. A very small sampling follows:
CAIT: Okay. The first time Jeremy did the thing, it was up in Mom and Dad’s room?
ANGELA: Uh huh.
CAIT: Right? Okay. And you were about four?
ANGELA: [Angela nods.]
CAIT: Can you tell me about that time?
ANGELA: Okay. Well, he, that was when he did the wine thing to me.
CAIT: Did the wine thing to you? Can you tell me about the wine thing?
ANGELA: Well, first he kept me in the room, and shut the door. And he got naked and made me naked. That’s when I got punched in the chest. And then, he, uh, he had wine.
CAIT: Mmm hmm.
ANGELA: And he would like, break the glass, and, like — he put the little recycling bin up there.
CAIT: Mmm hmm.
ANGELA: So he threw the glass in there, and then he would, then he would look for a certain flavor.
CAIT: Mmm hmm.
ANGELA: And then he would take it and then he would pour it in a fake, um, private, girl private part?
CAIT: Mmm hmm.
ANGELA: And then he would pour the wine into my real girl private.
ANGELA: And it stung like crazy, and my mom was coming back, and so I ran upstairs and got my old pajamas and got in them and just… [inaudible] faked sleep.
Angela goes on to say that her brothers, downstairs in their 1288-square-foot home, did not hear her torture, or her attacker lugging the recycling bin to her room, because her brothers “were glued to the TV.” It was also during this incident that Jeremy hit her in the hand, she says, which made her veins stop working. He also hit her in the face and gave her a black eye, she explains, but she was able to cover it up with makeup before her Mom and Dad returned.
The interviewer does not question the veracity of any of this, but returns instead to the details of the wine and the “fake vagina.”
CAIT: Okay. So he brought the wine. He poured wine in the fake vagina. Then what happened?
ANGELA: Then he was, he broke the glass on the recycling bin, and he threw it in, and threw it in, and threw it in. [Angela mimes the breaking multiple bottles of wine.] And then he got the, finally he got his, um, like, a certain flavor — it was Orange Spice.
CAIT: Orange Spice?
The interviewer also reserves comment on the detail of the Orange Spice, along with the details of Angela’s attacker bringing multiple bottles of wine into her home only to smash all but one of them because they were not “Orange Spice.”
CAIT: Okay. When he poured the wine on you, he poured it, you said, “on” your vagina?
CAIT: In your vagina. Okay. And then what happened?
ANGELA: That’s when Carson cried, “Mom’s here!”
CAIT: Okay. So, when he put the wine in your vagina, did he pour it into there, or did he put the bottle inside of you, then pour it in?
ANGELA: He would put it inside and went like that — [Angela mimes forcefully shoving a bottle into a vagina.]
CAIT: The bottle?
CAIT: Okay. And did you say anything when he did that?
ANGELA: No. I was being very, very quiet.
Even readers who lack the alleged forensic expertise of CAIT personnel, should be able to imagine Angela’s physical condition following an attack in which a wine bottle was shoved into her vagina. The frequent result of similar attacks on fully-grown women is called traumatic fistula, which is an internal tearing, a breach of the reproductive tract, opening into the bowels or other body cavities. This is accompanied by extraordinary pain, of course, and often results in sepsis and even death if the victim does not receive immediate medical attention.
CAIT, however, did not question Angela’s account of the wine bottle. Nor was Angela done with the details.
ANGELA: And then he drunk out of the bottle and said, “Mmm, this is good.”
CAIT: And he drank out of the bottle after he did that, and said “Mmm, this is good”? Okay.
Readers who are encountering such an interview for the first time will likely find themselves asking, How does a child come up with this? And why? We’ve already answered both questions in terms of Jeff’s and Julie’s shared motive. In terms of narrative details, we find previous “drafts” of the children’s stories in Jeff’s and Julie’s earlier phone calls to authorities, and in their interviews with police.
For example, the detail of the perpetrator’s evil one-liner following a horrific act — “Mmm. This is good” — first appears, with variations, in Jeff’s interview with police:
On Saturday October 25th, between 9:30 to 11:00 p.m. I was sitting on the living room couch with Angela. . . . Angela described that when Jeremy had raped her, she bled. Jeremy stuck his finger into her vagina coating his finger with blood and licked it off his finger and said “Yum” as he did it.
Themes of sadism, the suffering of the victim, the pleasure of the perpetrator, pervade Jeff’s stories, which also serve to introduce the props that will later be found in Angela’s stores, including wine, the “plastic vagina,” Julie’s dildo, and Jeff’s knife. [4E] Again, from Jeff’s affidavit to police:
Jeremy had been drinking some wine. He was pouring it into the fake vagina and drinking it while Angela was tied to a tree with a rope at the rear of our property. He then brought Angela inside to her bedroom and poured wine into her vagina. Then he assaulted her with a plastic penis. Angela said, “It really really burned daddy.”
Angela talked about being beaten that Jeremy hit them a lot. She described how Jeremy tried to force her to have sex, she refused. Jeremy had used a flint-knapped obsidian knife and created a notch into one of her thumbnails, while saying he was going to drill a hole so he could tie her to the bed and have sex with her.
Jeff’s statement to police in fact introduces the motif of the knife, for the first time, into Angela’s alleged at-home disclosures — and Angela will discuss the knife later (with several variations) in her interview at CAIT.
The “flint-napped obsidian knife” described by Jeff is a replica of a traditional Native American ceremonial weapon — in keeping with themes of ritualistic abuse. [4F]
Jeff failed to mention to detectives, however, that the knife belonged to him. [4G]
Not that it would matter. As previously discussed on our Evidence page, Jeff’s knife, as with Julie’s dildo, was never seized as evidence, let alone subjected to a forensic analysis.
Jeff’s story of the knife is also interesting in light of Angela’s earlier sessions with her private therapist, in which Angela expresses fear of Jeff’s anger, as well as her nightmare involving Jeff stabbing her mother.
Hayhurst’s session notes dated 9/17/03 — more than a month prior to the _X_ family’s allegations against Jeremy — include the following:
Bad dream — dad stabbing mom.
Angry at dad for bad back, can never do anything (dad). Gets angry/nasty with kids. Made Jesse cry, makes Mom cry. She’s afraid of their fighting.
M__ at school — boy in Angela’s class. His parents fight with each other physically. Angela afraid of that for her parents. Wants M__ to come and see me.
Ask if she feels comfortable to tell Dad how she feels — no.
Ask if I can tell Dad for her — Angela says yes.
In speaking with DCF, later, Hayhurst would also make sure to alert them that the _X_ house likely contained multiple knives.
Compare Angela’s later mention of the knife, at CAIT, in a story in which Jeremy allegedly uses Jeff’s knife to put a hole in her thumb and tie her to the bed.
ANGELA: Jeremy, like, took the knife and went like that. [Makes a stabbing motion.]
CAIT: Into your thumb?
ANGELA: He didn’t go like this. [Makes a screwing motion.]
ANGELA: [Several inaudible words.] He went like that. [Makes stabbing motion again.]
CAIT: Okay. Now, did you say anything while he was doing that?
ANGELA: I said, “Jeremy, stop it, you dork!”
CAIT: Okay. And did your brothers hear you screaming?
CAIT: No, they didn’t? And — why did he stop?
ANGELA: Because Carson and Jesse said, “Hey, look it, there’s a blue car outside! Hey, I think that’s Mom and Dad there. Yeah, it is!”
Note how deftly the interviewer transforms Angela’s implausible response to being stabbed — “Stop it, you dork!” — into “screaming.”
Although Angela repeatedly stresses that she was stabbed in the thumb, CAIT’s report also suggests that a “mark” on Angela’s thumbnail corroborates her story.
Nearly all of Angela’s actual words, the verbatim details of her stories, would be omitted from the CAIT summary of her interview — such as the following tale, in which Angela is saved from being stabbed by the metal plates hidden in her shirt.
ANGELA: Jeremy tried killing me.
CAIT: How did he try killing you?
ANGELA: He took the knife and — The good thing was that I had, like, these metal things that I had been hiding from him.
CAIT: Uh huh.
ANGELA: Like, I put them on my chest so I wouldn’t lose them. He tried killing me by taking the knife and going like this through it. [Mimes stabbing motion with imaginary knife to her heart.]
CAIT: He did? And what happened?
ANGELA: I had a little blood dripping down from it, and he said, “You’re still alive. Not good. Not good at all!”
It was imaginary dialogue, as if spoken by a cartoon villain while twisting his handlebar mustache — You’re still alive. Not good. Not good at all! — but far from stopping the interview, CAIT would later simply omit the impossible details above, in their “forensic” report, while noting without comment that Angela claimed to have been stabbed.
Also absent from CAIT’s forensic report is Angela’s manic description of a double homicide.
ANGELA: And, and, Jeremy knocked my dad over. Then he killed him. And then he cut off his, um, private. Then he said that he was gonna, um– ‘Cause Carson was with him, he said ‘No, no, no, no, don’t!’ And he, um, then he cut Carson in half, and, um, cut off his privates so he could have it, to terrorize girls with it also.
Indeed, by the end of the interview, CAIT ceased to bother at all with details. They sought only numbers of allegations, numbers that could be translated into charges filed by the State’s Attorney for whom they worked.
CAIT: Do you know how many times Jeremy put his, his boy private part in your mouth? Was it –
ANGELA: [Quickly.] Twice.
CAIT: Twice? Just twice? Wasn’t more than that?
ANGELA: [Inaudible, but indicating “No.”]
CAIT: Okay. And how many times did he put — I can’t remember — how many times did he put, um, shoot sperm in your vagina?
CAIT: Once? And how many times did he put his boy private part in your vagina without shooting sperm?
ANGELA: Or maybe five times. I can’t remember.
CAIT: Like, about five times?
CAIT: Okay. And how many times did he put it in your butt — or in your heinie? I can’t remember what you called it. What did you call it?
ANGELA: A “behind.”
CAIT: A behind. How many times did he put it in your heinie — your behind?
ANGELA: Um, uh, I guess, like, once.
CAIT: Like, once? Okay. And, then, how many times did he use his fingers?
ANGELA: Um, ten times.
CAIT: About ten times? And how many times did he use “stuff’”? Like, the fake boy’s part —
ANGELA: [Before the interviewer can finish the question:] Sixteen times.
CAIT: Sixteen times? You remember that?
CAIT: Okay. Um, were there any other times or any other things that I didn’t ask you about, that he did to you?
CAIT: And he punched you in the eye. And he threw you up against the bed. And he threw you against the dresser. And he punched you in the chest. And he stabbed your thumb and he cut your chest. . . . [4H]
CAIT was not operating as forensic fact-finders. They were not seeking the truth, only confirmation of a bias. They turned a blind eye to factual incest in order to focus on a fictional monster.
This, of course, was precisely what Jeff and Julie _X_ had set out to achieve.
At the end of several pages detailing Angela’s fictional stories about Jeremy, the CAIT report summarizes Carson’s factual molestation of Angela in just a few sentences, minimizing it with precisely the same language that Julie employed, calling it merely a sexual “touch.” [4I] Even CAIT casts Carson’s abuse of his sister in a loving light:
Sexual Touch by Carson
Angela stated that Carson would not threaten or hurt her, he would tell her that her [sic] “I feel madly in love with you.” She went on to state that it wasn’t bad like with Jeremy.
There should be no unsupervised time with Carson.