Molester had abundant opportunities to sexually abuse kids in this case, but so did many others
Four new witnesses were called to the stand when testimony resumed this afternoon in the child sex abuse case of convicted child molester Sean Vickers.
Though their testimonies were mostly compelling, defense attorney Jerry Ader managed to point out gaps in recollections, dates and other specifics in an effort to cast a shadow of doubt in the jurors' minds.
Among those who took the stand was a 25-year-old prisoner brought in by officers from another county. He wore a white shirt, tan pants, ankle shackles, and looked dead ahead from the witness stand.
District Attorney Lawrence Friedman straightaway dispatched with the witness's criminal record. The man is serving time for criminal trespass and two counts of first-degree attempted sexual abuse of a minor. He pled guilty when he was 17 of unlawfully entering the home of an acquaintance and forcibly touching the genitals of two females, ages 7 and 11. He has served more than five years, out of a maximum of eight, and his third parole hearing is this fall.
Then Friedman asked about Vickers.
The alleged victim said he is one of five boys in his family, Vickers was an adult relative, and that from the time period of November 2001 to April 2002, Vickers had performed oral sex on him and vice-versa at least five or more times.
At that point, several of the jurors stared hard at Vickers. They were all paying attention.
On cross-examination, Ader honed in on the witness's credibility.
Ader contended that the witness has an ulterior motivation for coming forward now and telling about alleged oral sexual conduct with Vickers. The witness's time off for good behavior was voided due to problems during his incarceration. To convince authorities to give the credits back, and have that recommendation made at his third parole hearing in September, he's testifying today, Ader maintained.
In 2004, Ader noted, nothing was mentioned about oral sexual contact, nine years later it surfaces.
But upon questioning by Friedman, it was pointed out that the witness didn't reach out to police about Vickers, rather the police contacted the witness in order to re-interview him for this case about his contact with Vickers.
Next, Ader asked the witness if one someone had been removed from his mother's home. The witness said Child Protective Services had ordered Vickers to be removed from the home.
That's not the answer he was looking for, so he ignored the statement. He asked about one of his brothers. Was one of them was removed from the home?
"Were you ever told why?"
"Did you ever wonder why?"
Did (this brother) ever touch you inappropriately?"
The next witness was a 23-year-old brother of the first witness. Friedman questioned him about getting in trouble with the police. The young man told the jurors that in August of 2002 he got caught throwing rocks at the sand wash on Cedar Street and the cops took him to his house in Batavia. Only Vickers was there and they began arguing. Then the boy went in the basement to fold laundry. Vickers came down there and told him he was in big trouble. When the boy was standing against the washing machine, he said Vickers "touched my groin area...probably less than a minute. ... I ran upstairs. I was afraid."
From November 2001 to February 2004, Vickers sexually molested him on several occasions, the second witness said. Specifically, Vickers performed oral sex on him. The witness at this point appeared a bit uncomfortable, yawning nervously and wriggling about.
It was the dates of those instances that Ader parsed. How could he remember the dates? Are you saying you can remember this from 10 years ago?
The witness said he remembers the date of the time in the laundry room because it was the first real trouble he'd gotten into. The second time in which he recalled a specific date was because "it was Buffalo Bills day."
An exhibit was then entered into the court record -- an affidavit which he signed in May of 2013. It describes his run-in with police, arguing with Vickers about it, but nothing about sexual contact. It says he was 11, but he was actually 8 at the time. And the statement about an instance of abuse on Buffalo Bills day says he was 8, but he was actually 11.
"You really don't have a good memory about this do you?"
"No," the witness replied. "It's hard enough as it is."
Next the prisoner was recalled to the stand and simply asked if the alleged abuse occurred at the same address (the one his brother cited). "Yes."
The third witness for the prosecution testified that he knows one of the alleged victims, from another family, because his brother is married to the child's mother.
Last August, with Vickers behind the wheel, the third witness and his brother all went to the IMAX theater in Rochester to see a movie. The brother, having some knowlege of the alleged molestation, asked Vickers if he had been touching the child. The answer was yes. The brother said "stay away from our house." "Okay," the previously convicted molester replied.
This witness, too, has had legal problems. In 2009, at age 17, he entered guilty pleas to several misdemeanors, including stealing bicycles out of people's yards, shoplifting at Walmart, and more serious, providing alcohol to minors. He spent a year in jail and then was put on probation.
When Ader asked about the movie trip, he wanted to know if the radio was on, was it loud, since he had a cell phone with him -- why didn't he text and tell someone about Vickers' alleged admission of guilt?
The third witness said when he returned home that night, he did tell the child's mother.
The final witness was this child's mother -- a married woman who has two sons, ages 11 and 9.
She testified that from Spring 2012 to Spring 2013, Vickers often had contact with her family, as he was a relation by marriage. They went skiing, to movies, on picnics.
"He paid for things, like a Kindle Fire, rollerblades, bought Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, expensive things," she said. "At times he spent the night in our attic, it's finished, it's a bedroom. He slept on a pad on the floor."
The district attorney elicited that her sister has twin boys and they often spent nights at the witness's house as well, including about four or five overnight stays when Vickers was staying over.
The mother bit her lip repeatedly. Swallowed hard. Teared up.
She told the panel that today her youngest son has attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder; he is emotionally disturbed; suffers from anxiety; and has also been diagnosed with "behavorial defiance disorder."
Then she talked more about Vickers.
"Sean would pay for us (she and her husband) to go do things and he said he'd pay for it and he'd babysit."
And how many times did this type of arrangement occur? Friedman asked.
"Fifty times or more," she replied.
Ader asked if her brother-in-law had told her about the conversation he had with Vickers in the car on the way to the movies. Yes, she said. Ader asked if her youngest son had told her he had been "touched." No, she said.
By this time, the impassive, pale-faced Vickers started taking notes on a legal pad. He is diminutive, balding and gray in back; he wore a black suit. He is slight of chin and completely unremarkable in mien.
The last witness further testified that she had not alerted the police after her brother-in-law relayed the car conversation because she had already done so "long before."
The defense attorney's next line of questioning brought forth testimony that many guests came and went at her household, including one who had been convicted of providing alcohol to minors.
There were plenty of guests.
"More than I'd like," she said.
The case resumes tomorrow morning.
(Batavia PD Det. Kevin Czora also testified, simply that he investigated the case; no details.)
Billie, you are doing a good thing in covering the trial and the arguments. Most people will glance at this story and pull away because of its nature. There will be few comments: It is too scary a thing for people to feel comfortable speaking about.
There are predators among us, and they do reveal themselves... But we have to be looking to see them. Those who will not see are blind; as blind as those who can't see.
Maybe these victims have "records" because they where acting out because of the abuse.