Nurse details accuser's injuries in UM rape trial

2013-02-15T11:55:00Z 2014-08-25T16:40:15Z Nurse details accuser's injuries in UM rape trialGWEN FLORIO Missoulian The Billings Gazette
February 15, 2013 11:55 am  • 

MISSOULA — The nurse practitioner who performed a medical examination on the woman who said she was raped by former University of Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson testified Friday that the woman’s injuries were consistent with “sexual trauma.”

Under cross-examination by defense attorney David Paoli, however, Claire Francoeur said those same injuries could have resulted from consensual sex.

Francoeur, who works at the First Step center that treats victims of sexual assault and child abuse, examined the woman on Feb. 5, 2012.

Johnson, who is charged with sexual intercourse without consent, maintains that he and the woman had consensual sex as they watched a movie at her home the night before.

The public was excluded from the courtroom during much of Francoeur’s testimony, which involved explaining intimate videos and photographs taken during the examination.

Friday also featured testimony from Francoeur’s supervisor; the friend who gave the woman a ride to First Step; and the woman’s high school boyfriend, who remains a close friend.

Jurors also heard from Brian O’Day, the son of former UM athletic director Jim O’Day. Shortly after driving Johnson home the night of the alleged incident, the woman gave Brian O’Day a ride home from a downtown bar, as they’d arranged earlier in the week.

Once again, members of the Grizzlies football team were in the courtroom for part of the day, showing their support for Johnson, who was suspended from the team after being charged in the case.

The day also was marked by an escalating series of objections from both sides, at one point resulting in palpable tension between the attorneys as Paoli muttered something to prosecuting attorney Adam Duerk after being overruled on an objection.

“What was that?” Duerk demanded of Paoli, who glared at him until District Court Judge Karen Townsend ordered, “You may continue.”

Paoli questioned Francoeur about helping the woman get in touch with an attorney in what Paoli repeatedly termed “an Atlanta law firm that sues for money.” During her own testimony earlier this week, the woman said she has no plans to sue Johnson or the University of Montana.

“It’s part of my job to refer them (patients) to whatever resources they need, including attorneys,” Francoeur said Friday.

She also testified about a text message she sent the woman upon hearing about the firings of O’Day and football coach Robin Pflugrad in March, not long after the news became public that Johnson had been accused of rape.

Francoeur, who was at a conference on domestic violence in San Francisco, texted: “Wahoo! One step in the right direction for mankind.”

“I did say that, but not in the context of those men being fired,” Francoeur testified.

Paoli pressed her on to her follow-up text: “Hell, yeah … all 1,000 in attendance at domestic violence training are celebrating your heroism.”

“Did you say that in response to the news?” Paoli asked.

“No,” said Francoeur.

Francoeur’s supervisor at First Step, Mary Pat Hansen, testified later that she found no issues with Francoeur’s examination of the woman. Nor, she said, did Francoeur’s role in aiding with the law firm referral, or in sending the texts, nullify the results of that exam.

Text messages also were the focus when Brian O’Day took the stand. Within a week of the alleged incident, the woman texted O’Day that the news that she was going to report the assault would hit Johnson “like a ton of bricks,” according to testimony in the case.

In response to questions Friday from Assistant Chief Deputy County Attorney Suzy Boylan, O’Day testified that when the woman gave him a ride home that night, she was “pale ... with kind of a blank stare.” She later told him what had happened, he said.

O’Day told the seven-woman, five-man jury that he texted the woman a few days later, seeking more details.

“I knew how big a deal allegations like this could be, so I just wanted to make sure what was in her head,” he said under cross-examination by Paoli.

“You asked did he (Johnson) completely know what was going down or did he just think you two hooked up and that was that?” Paoli said.

That’s right, said O’Day, saying that the woman replied, “I don’t think he did anything wrong, to be honest.”

“I asked, ‘You don’t think he did anything wrong, or you don’t think that he thinks he did anything wrong?’ ” O’Day said he responded.

The latter, she replied – adding that, in response to his question as to whether she told Johnson to stop, “she said (she told him), ‘No, I don’t want to do this.’ ”

When Paoli queried him yet again about the “ton of bricks” text, the attorney said he couldn’t find the exact piece of paper it was on, and turned instead to a blown-up version of the text on a huge piece of poster board:

“Nope, he does not. It will hit him like a ton of bricks which I’m OK with. (Smiley-face emoticon) So wanna grab lunch Thursday?”

The judge said Paoli could refer to the board as long as he didn’t display it to jurors, who had their own copies of the evidence.

Boylan returned to that text when she questioned O’Day after Paoli’s cross-examination, reminding him that Paoli hadn’t asked about the entire text exchange. The woman went on to write:

“Brian, if I didn’t tell him to stop, it wouldn’t be rape, would it? But I told him no, I don’t want to do this,” O’Day testified.

The woman had testified that a few days after university officials interviewed her parents about the incident, Jim O’Day and then-Grizzlies football coach Robin Pflugrad were fired.

University President Royce Engstrom has said only that he sought change; however in a newspaper interview, Pflugrad linked the action to the Johnson case.

“I don’t know if she technically had anything to do with it,” Brian O’Day testified Friday, “but it might have resulted” from her reporting the incident.

Both Ali Bierer, the friend who drove the woman to First Step the day after the incident, and Loy Bink, her former high school boyfriend, testified that she seemed withdrawn after the incicent.

“Worried, tense, shaking, scared,” is how Bierer described her the next day. And Bink, who saw her later that day, said she was “obviously not herself. She was real reserved. It felt like she wanted to cover herself.”

The two have remained close in the year since, he said.

Both denied that the woman in any way enjoyed the attention she’s received as a result of accusing Johnson of rape. In opening statements Monday, defense attorney Kirsten Pabst talked about “a little bit of drama and a little bit of celebrity,” for the woman. “She found a new identity: victim,” Pabst said then.

“I don’t think she’s enjoying this at all,” Bierer testified Friday. “In fact, I don’t think she’s liking any aspect of this.”

What if you heard her described as attention-seeking in connection with the accusation, Assistant Attorney General Joel Thompson asked Bink.

“I’d say that was absurd,” Bink replied.

The trial resumes Wednesday. Monday is a holiday and Judge Townsend’s regular court day is Tuesday.

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