A Miami County Common Pleas Judge on Friday ruled that a boy can testify via closed circuit television in the again-delayed trial of his alleged rapist.
Four hours after listening to testimony Friday by the boy’s child psychologist, Judge Christopher Gee decided that the boy testifying against Jason M. Zwick can do so from another room. Judge Gee turned down the defense’s request to have the boy speak in open court or testify in court with only “essential personnel.”
“It is so traumatic within the security of my office when he’s laying on the sofa, hugging a bear, to talk about these things,” Dr. Gregory Ramey of The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton testified during Friday’s hearing. “To present him with a situation to where in open court where anyone could be sitting and listening to those things I think would be extremely detrimental to him.”
Zwick, 30, was indicted on three felony charges of raping a minor younger than 13 years old who is one of the adopted sons of Troy’s Kenneth H. Brandt between Jan. 1 and Feb. 24. Investigators said Zwick answered an ad on Craigslist that Brandt posted about the availability of such activity.
Brandt, 40, pleaded guilty on Thursday to six counts of rape against his adopted children and was told by the judge he can expect to serve at least 60 years in prison. The plea includes that Brandt would testify against Zwick, whose trial was to begin Tuesday but was continued late Friday afternoon to an undisclosed date.
Assistant prosecuting attorney Tony Kendell amended his original motion which preferred a closed courtroom in favor of closed circuit television. Ramey said that in terms of psychological harm, the boy testifying in open court would be a 10, in closed court would be an eight and by closed circuit TV would be a two.
Defense attorney Joe Stadnicar said he was trying to maintain the constitutional rights of his client getting to face his accuser. He also told the judge that jurors should see the boy in person: “The test of credibility sometimes comes from actually watching a witness testify and having that closer contact,” Stadnicar said. “Obviously the child has been brutally assaulted and the defendant is not denying that, he’s just denying that he was one to be involved in that.”
Ramey said he’s had 36 therapy sessions of 90 minutes or more with the boy: “It would be very difficult for him to do so, given the sexual acts that allegedly occurred, for him to be in the same room with (Zwick),” he said.
But Ramey told Stadnicar that the boy should testify. “We talked a lot about how when people do bad things, there are consequences,” Ramey said. “And for him to play a role, not as a victim, but as someone who could relate the truth about what happened, I view as actually therapeutic for him.”
Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.