By Bob Steenson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Defendant Douglas Lindaman said in a taped interview with a state law enforcement officer that he had touched a 17-year-old boy’s genitals, but he maintained in that and other interviews that the touch was not sexual.
Lindaman is on trial for sexual abuse in the third degree for allegedly touching the teenager in 2011 when the boy and his brother worked for Lindaman on Lindaman’s farm near Charles City.
The second day of witness testimony took place Thursday in Cerro Gordo County District Court in Mason City, and included playing for the jury three taped conversations between Lindaman and an agent or agents of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, along with a recording of a telephone conversation between Lindaman and the alleged victim’s father.
At the start of the day, before the jury entered the courtroom, Lindaman objected to the introduction of two of the tapes, as he had previously done before the trial started.
In one interview, he said, the agents misled him by telling him that they had a recording of the incident that occured with the boy, possibly made by the boy on his phone.
“It put me off guard and I waived a significant constitutional right by speaking,” Lindaman said. “I waived my right to remain silent. I spoke and I was not clear, I was not very precise in my answers because I assumed there was something out there that would be very precise and I was misled and I was led to be careless in the way I was answering questions.”
In another interview, Lindaman argued that there were parts of the recording that were missing, because, he said, he remembered statements that were made and subjects that were discussed that are no longer part of the recording.
Floyd County Attorney Rachel Ginbey — and later Michael Roehrkasse, the former DCI agent who made the recordings — both said the recordings had not been been altered or tampered with in any way, other than to redact parts of the interview that contained topics that could not go before the jury, that Lindaman had agreed should be taken out.
Judge Gregg Rosenbladt ruled again that there was no basis to exclude the interviews.
The first recording Ginbey played for the jury was of a recorded phone call between the alleged victim’s father and Lindaman, recorded by Roehrkasse.
In it, Lindaman says he was concerned the man’s son may have suffered some sexual trauma several years previously, but he denied having touched the boy or doing anything sexually to him.
The next recording was of an interview by Roehrkasse and another DCI agent at Lindaman’s farm on June 29, 2011, and lasted for more than an hour.
The agents talked with Lindaman about how the boys had come to work for him and Lindaman had given a used washing machine to the alleged victim’s family and had helped the boy buy a dirt bike, and how Lindaman had purchased an oil to help with acne scarring on the boy’s back and had rubbed it on the boy a couple of times.
At one point, Roehrkasse said the sheriff’s office does swabs to look for DNA and does swabs of the genitals when a complaint is made.
“Any reason when they sent that in that it would show your DNA on (his) penis?” Roehrkasse asks on the recording.
“No,” Lindaman said.
“So if we did have that, what would your answer be?” the agent asked.
“I don’t have an answer,” Lindaman said. “I don’t know what the circumstance is, unless they’re setting me up.”
The agents continued to question Lindaman about his involvement, stating several times that “the case facts clearly show you were involved, through DNA” and other evidence.
“The case facts clearly showed it happened,” Roehrkasse said.
The agents suggested several times that perhaps the boy had misunderstood Lindaman’s intentions or didn’t understand what it was like to be a gay man because the boy was from “small-town Iowa.”
The other DCI agent with Roehrkasse, Special Agent Scott Reger, told Lindaman, “I think you’re somebody who’s been misunderstood. The fact of the matter is this stuff happened. … I’m telling you, I know there was contact.”
Lindaman said, “I told you all that I know.”
“I think there’s more you want to tell us,” Reger said.
“No,” said Lindaman.
The agents continued pressuring Lindaman, suggesting he was putting oil on the boy and his hand slipped, or he was trying to help the boy and the boy misunderstood his intentions, and saying the “case facts” made the situation look bad so Lindaman needed to clear up what really happened.
They said several times that they knew what had happened, but they needed to know the why.
At one point the agents suggested there was an audio recording of the incident, and at another point suggested that Lindaman’s DNA had been found on the underpants of the alleged victim’s brother.
Lindaman continued to deny having touched the boy or his brother.
After a lunch break, Ginbey played the next recording for the jury, made between Roehrkasse and Lindaman the next day, June 30, 2011, at the Charles City Police Department after Lindaman had contacted the agent and said he wanted to talk.
“You asked if I put oil on his leg, and I did,” Lindaman said.
“You asked if I touched his penis — I’m not sure,” he said.
Lindaman said he was trying to help the boy work through a sexual injury and get him to verbalize his feelings.
He said one of the reasons he put the oil on the boy was to help his scars, but another reason was touch therapy.
“Usually with a little touch therapy people open up and I thought he would talk a little more,” Lindaman said.
“It was not sexual,” Lindaman told Roehrkasse on the recording.
“I assumed that he had some kind of experience which was emotionally damaging and bottled up,” he said. “I tried everything I could in a gentle manner to get him to open up about it.
“We did progress to the point where I said, ‘Hey, what can happen is, I can have you drop your pants and we can talk about it. If it’s uncomfortable we can stop.’ And so we did.”
Lindaman later said he might have touched the boy’s genitals, but there was no stroking, nothing sexual, “no sex act.”
They also discussed whether the boy had told Lindaman he didn’t want to be touched.
“Do you remember what happened when he said stop,” Roehrkasse asked.
“I don’t remember. You have the tape,” Lindaman said in the recording, referring to a recording of the incident that the agents had told him might exist.
“At any point do you recall him saying ‘you can look at my penis but you can’t touch it?’” Roehrkasse asked.
“I think he probably did say that,” Lindaman said.
“What was your response after that?” Roehrkasse asked.
“You’d have to look at the tape,” Lindaman said. “I know that we did go further. I thought that he was consenting. That was my belief.”
Lindaman said that by the boy’s expressions and actions, he thought the boy was giving consent to be touched.
Later, after more discussion, Lindaman said, “I’m getting feedback from you that it was not consensual, and I thought it was consensual. I knew it would be uncomfortable, but it was consensual.”
Ginbey also questioned Roehrkasse about a search warrant executed on Lindaman’s residence. A computer and a phone were seized, but the agent said nothing illegal was found on them.
After the recordings were played Lindaman again made his objection, this time in front of the jury, that parts of one of the recordings was missing, and complained that the only materials they had to work with were copies of recordings.
While Lindaman was questioning Roehrkasse about procedures with recordings, the agent said the original recording disc of the interview at the Charles City Police Department would probably be in the original case file in Des Moines, and Lindaman moved that the disc be produced as soon as possible.
Also in cross-examining Roehrkasse, the agent answered Lindaman’s questions saying there really was no DNA evidence and there was no recording of the alleged incident, agreeing with Lindaman that they were “fictitious.”
The other two witnesses for the day were the alleged victim’s father and mother, who testified about a confrontation between Lindaman and the father at the family’s house several days after the alleged incident and after the parents had told the boys to stop working for Lindaman.
They both discussed a payment from Lindaman for $3,000 and a document they signed that said there had been no sexual act or forced act.
Both parents said their son had not told them specifics about what allegedly happened with Lindaman.
The trial will resume in Mason City Friday morning.