By Bob Steenson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Douglas Lindaman testified for almost 2½ hours on his own behalf Monday morning and early afternoon, then underwent more than an hour of cross-examination by the prosecution before resting his defense.
The jury in the third-degree sexual abuse case is scheduled to hear jury instructions from the judge and closing arguments from Lindaman and from prosecutor Rachel Ginbey, the Floyd County attorney, today (Tuesday), then the jury will likely begin deliberating the case sometime Tuesday afternoon.
Lindaman, 62, of Charles City, is accused of sexually touching a 17-year-old boy who was working for him on Lindaman’s farm in 2011. He is being tried in Cerro Gordo County District Court in Mason City on a change of venue from Floyd County.
Lindaman, who has a law degree and previously had a law license, is representing himself in the case, so much of his testimony consisted of him talking directly to the jury.
Lindaman has identified himself as gay, and he covered a wide range of topics in his testimony, including his theories on sexual identification, discrimination against gay men, his thoughts on how passages of the Bible relate to homosexual and gay relations (which he said are two different things), and, especially, why he said he eventually touched the penis of the teen who was working on his cattle farm.
His defense has been that the touch was not a sexual act, but rather a form of intervention or therapy to help the teen verbalize what Lindaman said he had identified as a sexual injury in the boy, or what he called a “psychological pus pocket,” because the teen would not talk about sexual topics and would “freeze” when asked questions about sex.
Lindaman also maintains that the touch was consensual.
He identified himself as a caregiver, who was concerned that the teen might “spiral” into self-destructive tendencies unless the teen was able to talk about the problem that caused what Lindaman saw as a sexual injury.
Lindaman told the story of a person he had known who he said he had helped with an addiction to bondage pornography, saying, “If you know where to look for that psychological pus picket, and address it, you can take care of the abhorrent behavior that has come about.”
Lindaman had purchased an oil that was supposed to help with acne scars on the boy’s back and chest, and Lindaman applied the oil to the boy several times a week over a couple of months.
He said that when he purchased the oil he intended for the boy to take it home and have a family member apply it, but the boy refused to be touched by a family member, which further indicated there was a sexual injury, Lindaman said.
The alleged victim in previous testimony had said that he wanted to take the oil home to have his mother apply it, but that Lindaman had insisted it remain on his farm so Lindaman could apply it.
Lindaman testified that the boy sometimes wore shorts while working on the farm and he could see that the boy had acne scars on the front of his thighs as well. Once when giving the teen a ride to work in his truck, Lindaman had asked if he could apply the oil there, and the boy said OK, “but don’t touch my penis.”
Lindaman said the boy was so adamant about not having his genitals touched that Lindaman figured that was the location of the teen’s sexual problem.
“I indicated to him that I felt that, based on the statement in the car, ‘Don’t touch my penis,’ that something either repressed or blocked a memory, … that there was something there that he couldn’t talk about when he went into the frozen state and he could not verbalize what it was, and he didn’t want to talk about sexual issues,” Lindaman told the jury.
“So we agreed … that I would touch his penis, and I would do that hoping that it would break through that emotional, psychological pus pocket,” Lindaman said.
Lindaman said the boy voluntarily accompanied him to a building on his farm that contained an apartment, voluntarily went up the steps to the apartment, voluntarily removed his pants and voluntarily removed his underpants.
Lindaman said he asked the boy if he was ready and the boy said “no.” He said that after a moment the boy nodded his head and Lindaman said he knew that he had agreed to the touch and he did touch the tip of the boy’s penis with his index finger.
In previous testimony the teen said he did not give Lindaman permission to touch his genitals.
Lindaman told the jury, “I did not have sexual desire for this young man. I liked him, yes. I was concerned about him, as I am with anyone who has a psychological pus pocket.”
Lindaman said the touch was the equivalent of the Heimlich maneuver, done to help someone who is choking.
He listed several examples of where touch can evoke a neurological response, including petting a therapy dog, having the parents of a premature baby hold the baby, embracing a friend or family member, and twisting the tail of a steer to keep it still while applying a castration band.
Lindaman repeated many times that the touch was not sexual in nature, but he also added that since the boy was older than 16, legally he could consent to have sex with anyone, no matter how much older.
“My contact here was not sexual in nature, but it’s not prohibited, if you want to think of it as sexual — but it was not,” he said.
In her cross-examination, Ginbey asked a series of direct questions:
Ginbey: “Mr. Lindaman, you acknowledge that you’re not a licensed therapist?”
Ginbey: “You’re not a medical doctor?”
Ginbey: “Not a social worker?”
Ginbey: “Not a psychologist?”
Ginbey: “Not a psychiatrist?”
Ginbey: “You do not have a license or certification for conducting therapy?”
Ginbey: “You’ve had no formalized training for conducting therapy?”
Ginbey: “And you never had permission from (the teen’s) parents to provide therapy to him?”
Earlier Lindaman had testified to the jury that he was self-trained and had read and researched extensively in sexual matters.
“I am a caregiver,” he had said. “I’m not an expert in any given field, but I try to understand the law. I try to understand the science, that would be psychology. And I try to understand religious issues, because all of these impact the handling of some of these problems, especially when they are sexually related.”
On Friday, Lindaman had begun reading from a 122-page book he had written, called “Iowa’s Tuskegee Experiment, Perpetuating Institutionalized Sexual Exploitation.”
He read about 18 pages Friday before court recessed for the day, and had indicated he intended to read the entire book, but Ginbey objected to that on several grounds Monday morning before the jury was in the courtroom.
She argued that usually witnesses are not allowed to read testimony, many parts of the book are irrelevant to the trial, and there are specific references to previous cases and to other topics that have been ruled off-limits for the jury to hear including comments on jury instructions and punishments for specific crimes.
Lindaman said he would avoid those chapters, but in the end he did not read any more from the book.
This is the third time Lindaman is being tried on this charge of sexual abuse in the third degree.
He was convicted at a jury trial in April 2016, in Floyd County District Court in Charles City, and sentenced to serve up to 10 years in state prison.
He was serving that sentence when a three-justice-panel of the Iowa Supreme Court reversed the conviction in May 2017, and remanded the case for retrial.
Lindaman had represented himself at his trial in April 2016, and the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the district court had not fulfilled the legal requirements for a discussion necessary before someone proceeds to defend himself or herself.
Lindaman is again representing himself at this latest trial, but he also has a standby attorney with him in the courtroom with whom he can consult as needed.
The retrial was moved to Franklin County District Court in Hampton on a change of venue. That trial ended in a mistrial after two witnesses for the prosecution mentioned the word prison when talking about Lindaman.
The court had ruled that information on Lindaman’s criminal past could not be mentioned, including his conviction in 1988 on two felony counts of lascivious acts with a child, for which he served two years in prison and permanently lost his law license.