Defense witness says no PTSD for Johnson accuser

2013-02-28T12:42:00Z 2013-03-19T20:15:50Z Defense witness says no PTSD for Johnson accuserGWEN FLORIO Missoulian The Billings Gazette
February 28, 2013 12:42 pm  • 

MISSOULA — Doctors dueled over a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder Thursday during the final day of testimony in the rape trial of former University of Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson.

One physician, a paid expert witness for the defense, reviewed the counseling and medical records from UM’s Curry Health Center of the woman who says Johnson raped her on Feb. 4, 2012. Nothing in those records supported the PTSD diagnosis of one of the four people who treated her there, Dr. William Stratford testified.

“While there were some symptoms for sure — she was crying, she felt particularly low — the criteria for PTSD were not met in a way that would match this book,” said Stratford, brandishing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that’s the standard for such diagnoses.

But one of those four who treated the woman at UM, Curry’s Dr. David Bell, testified Thursday afternoon as a rebuttal witness for the prosecution that although he never wrote down PTSD as a diagnosis, the woman met all the criteria for the disorder.

“Viewed in totality,” Bell said, referring to the records of all four people who treated the woman over several months last year, “there’s documentation … that she met all of the criteria for PTSD.”

Both physicians testified that sexual assault is a leading cause of PTSD in women.

Johnson, who testified Monday and again Wednesday, maintains that he and the woman had consensual sex as they watched a movie at her house. He faces a charge of sexual intercourse without consent, which carries a maximum sentence of 100 years to life in prison.

On Friday, after closing arguments and Missoula District Court Judge Karen Townsend’s instructions to jurors, the seven-woman, five-man jury will begin deliberations.

Much of Thursday morning’s testimony focused on the PTSD diagnosis by Drew Colling, a counselor who treated the woman at UM’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center.

Colling, who also testified during the trial, was the third UM counselor to treat the woman. Neither of the other two, nor Bell, diagnosed PTSD. However, the other two counselors saw her within 30 days of the incident. One criterion for PTSD is that its effects linger beyond 30 days.

That said, Colling’s diagnosis did not include enough of the other criteria for PTSD, Stratford testified.

They did, however, point to an anxiety disorder, which is what the other counselors and Bell mentioned in their reports, he said.

Prosecuting attorney Adam Duerk referenced the reports by Bell and the other counselors, asking Stratford on cross-examination whether those other criteria for PTSD were found in the reports.

Yes, said Stratford — although those criteria also applied to other conditions, such as depression.

“If you make me look at the whole record, that (PTSD) criteria is met. But it’s also consistent with sadness,” he said.

Bell had testified that listing the woman’s disorder as unspecified anxiety was more a coding issue. Such codes are largely used for insurance purposes, he said.

Still, Paoli pointed out on cross-examination, “You thought about PTSD, and you thought about PTSD-type things, and you chose not to enter that code.”

When prosecuting attorney Adam Duerk questioned Bell, he posed the following: “Regardless of how we label (the woman’s) problems with emotional distress, was she suffering from emotional distress?”


“What was the basis?”

“My understanding was that it was sexual assault,” Bell said.

Defense attorney David Paoli raised his voice when cross-examining Bell about that statement, pointing out that Bell was relying on the woman’s own report that she’d been sexually assaulted.

“You don’t know the cause, do you?” he said.

“I don’t know the cause,” Bell said.

Paoli called Stratford back onto the stand as a rebuttal witness after Bell’s testimony. Stratford said he’d watched that testimony, and that it left him “a little fired up.”

“He cannot tell you what caused anything,” Stratford said.

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(13) Comments

  1. lefty the cowboy
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    lefty the cowboy - March 01, 2013 10:16 am
    Howard, your opinion about PTSD is uninformed and completely unsupported. You sound like the VA in 1975. I don't know if you are experienced in diagnosing and/or treating mental illness or physic injury, but I know PTSD is real, is a legitimate diagnosis, that treatment helps a lot of victims (but not all), and is now firmly part of the expanding knowledge within the mental health field. You sometimes make sense, but you are really off today... the laughable buffoons are the 3 people, including yourself, left in the world who deny the legitimacy of PTSD.
  2. lefty the cowboy
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    lefty the cowboy - March 01, 2013 10:07 am
    At the end of the trial we still have 'he said/she said'. Then there are some troubling sidelines, like the question regarding the likelihood charges would not have been pursued had it not been for the bad press and investigative interest in that community's history of dealing with sexual assaults. One never knows what a jury might do, but I am going to guess they will look at all the 'reasonable doubt', and acquit in fairly short order. We can only hope, either way, that justice is truly served... but the law insists on 'beyond a reasonable doubt'.
  3. MTGirlAlways
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    MTGirlAlways - March 01, 2013 7:17 am
    This is a sad situation either way, as neither of their lives will ever be the same. Reading through all the information that has been in the news articles I am not convinced it was rape. I would not want to be on the jury today, but may they come to the best verdict.
  4. BillingsCapitolofNewOldWest
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    BillingsCapitolofNewOldWest - March 01, 2013 6:45 am
    Football players get what they want but in this case it's drunkeness and bad decisions.
  5. BillingsMom397fc
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    BillingsMom397fc - March 01, 2013 4:27 am
    I expect him to be cleared of all charges. There is no evidence to convince me otherwise. I hope the jurors agree. I wonder if he can countersue for defamation of character? Etc
  6. BillingsCapitolofNewOldWest
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    BillingsCapitolofNewOldWest - February 28, 2013 7:54 pm
    Drunken sex temporary insanity

  7. concernedMT
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    concernedMT - February 28, 2013 7:51 pm
    Classy gals wouldn't lead a guy on at a party in the first place. Not saying she wasnt raped but doubt is there.
  8. snobord
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    snobord - February 28, 2013 7:37 pm
    As I follow this story I get the woman scorned vibe.
  9. Howard Wilkinson
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    Howard Wilkinson - February 28, 2013 6:41 pm
    "PTSD" is merely a label assigned to a somewhat variable group of symptoms. It is a diagnosis that is so subjective to be meaningless. There are no real "tests" that reasonable people would recognize as meaningful, much less definitive, nor do they understand the mechanisms or have any "cure". To introduce it at all as "evidence" in a court case is laughable. Not to minimize the suffering of those who's mental disturbance has been described using this fabricated term, it is difficult in the extreme to take anything shrinks, who have never cured anybody of anything, say about the "mental illnesses" of their patients. These folks should laughed out of court for the buffoons they are!!
  10. love2run
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    love2run - February 28, 2013 6:21 pm
    I wonder if the DOJ was not investigating UM if this case would have been even brought to court. I have to agree that it will a short deliberation will happen and he won't be convicted. This woman sounds pretty unstable and ready to try and grab the spotlight. Prior to the trial, I thought he had done it but I don't see/hear that, of course I am not a juror just getting my opinion.
  11. just 4 justice
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    just 4 justice - February 28, 2013 4:50 pm
    I know it would be no good in court and do not know why but let's have them both take a polygraph test just so all of us following this mess knows who the liar is! Or would that be too easy?
  12. jjc
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    jjc - February 28, 2013 4:46 pm
    When comparing the testimony of both side I would think a guilty verdict is unlikely. Johnson's side was clear and consistent, his family was stable and supportive, and there were no major holes in his story. The victim's side was of a troubled past with imagined or real bullying prior to college, with her father being unaware of the issues, and serious issues in consistency of her testimony on the events and the timeline. It should be a quick deliberatiuon by my observations.
  13. BillingsCapitolofNewOldWest
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    BillingsCapitolofNewOldWest - February 28, 2013 2:36 pm
    Both drunk and not fully aware of situation

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