CLEARFIELD – The commonwealth rested Tuesday afternoon in the trial for a Madera man who has been accused of forcing a girl to have sex with him over a three-year period beginning in 2012.
Robert Philbert Myers, 36, of Madera is standing trial on charges, which include 20 counts each of rape forcible compulsion; statutory sexual assault-11 years older; involuntary deviate sexual intercourse-person less than 16 years of age; and indecent assault-person less than 16 years of age.
Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. is presenting the case on behalf of the commonwealth. Myers is being represented by defense attorneys Carl Zwick and Leanne Nedza. Judge Paul E. Cherry is presiding over the trial.
Myers is on trial for allegedly raping and sexually assaulting a girl over a three-year period, beginning in July of 2012 and ending in July of 2014. The victim, who is now 18, detailed the abuse for jurors when she took the witness stand Monday.
According to her, Myers started out making inappropriate comments when she was about 12 or 13 years old. She said it progressed to him having inappropriate contact with her and eventually forcing her to have sexual relations with him in his truck’s sleeper cab and at a Madera residence.
She said when the abuse first began it was occurring once or twice a month. But as she got older, it was occurring more frequently and sometimes two or three times a week. She didn’t tell anyone for a long time out of fear of Myers and embarrassment.
The victim’s mother took the stand Tuesday morning and told jurors how she found out about the sexual abuse. On May 7, 2015, she said she woke up to find text messages from her daughter who needed to talk to her about Myers touching and hurting her.
Later that morning, they went to the state police’s Clearfield barracks and filed a report. Afterward she said the trooper recommended they obtain a Protection from Abuse order against Myers through the Crossroads office.
When asked by Shaw, the victim’s mother said she always thought Myers treated her daughter well. However, she did point out that at times her daughter received special treatment from Myers while other times she was treated very harshly.
While this was occurring, she said she didn’t really understand it. After she was made aware of the abuse, she said it started to make more sense. When asked by Shaw, she said her world has been turned upside down, and neither she nor her daughter has any motive to make up the allegations.
Melissa Fultz, a caseworker with Clearfield County Children & Youth Services, made a home visit June 1, 2015 and spoke with the victim to conduct a “basic facts” interview in the case. The purpose of the interview, she said, was to collect the “who, what, when, where and why you’re reporting now.”
She said the victim alleged Myers had inappropriately touched her and forced her to have sexual relations with him over a period of years at a Madera residence and on over-the-road truck trips.
Fultz said one reason the victim provided her for making the report now was because her younger sisters were getting to the age when Myers began sexually abusing her.
Amanda Cole, a CYS caseworker, testified that on June 25, 2015, she notified Myers of the victim’s sexual abuse allegations by letter. She was writing to offer him the opportunity to provide a statement. On June 30, 2015, she said Myers responded, telling her the allegations were “100 percent false” and “not true.”
Myers also told her that he and the victim had a very close relationship, and she’d posted about it on her Facebook page.
Brenda Manno, a licensed social worker and director of Project Point of Light, testified for the commonwealth as an expert in the field of child sexual abuse. Manno also sits on the state’s Sexual Offenders Assessment Board.
Manno explained to jurors the behaviors that can be attributed to child sexual abuse victims. She said many victims do not disclose the abuse until their adult years and some even go a lifetime without doing so.
The majority of child victims are sexually abused by family members, friends and acquaintances. “They know them, they like them and for some, they even love them,” she said. She added that abusers rarely go after children who are strangers to them.
According to her, victims don’t tell anyone what’s happening to them out of fear no one will believe them and that it will get their abuser in trouble. She said other fears include how it will affect their lives, such as if they will have to move, if it will change their family dynamics, etc.
Manno said abusers tend to “groom” their victim to lay the groundwork to move into the sexual realm with them. She said they establish closeness and make their victim feel love, affection and acceptance in order to maintain the relationship and its secrecy.
She testified that it would be a “great mistake” to believe the victim only feels negatively toward their abuser. Although it is traumatic for the victim and they know their abuser is wrong, she said there’s often a bond, making disclosure difficult because they don’t want to lose what has been good and beneficial.
Under cross-examination, Zwick asked Manno if there were a higher percentage of false allegations surrounding divorce/separations and custody disputes. She agreed to that and later added there are also very valid reports made in cases with changing family dynamics.
On May 7, 2015, Trooper Jared Wolff, a criminal investigator with the state police at Clearfield, interviewed the victim about the alleged sexual abuse. After taking down her report, he asked her mother to provide any additional information they could think of in the days to follow.
When he asked if there were possibly any messages from Myers, the victim later recalled a series of Facebook messages that were sexual in nature. She provided them to her mother who e-mailed them to Wolff. Wolff said he later asked the victim to come back to the barracks, she logged into her account there and he took pictures of them.
As part of his investigation, Wolff said he spoke by phone with Cole from CYS and a child psychologist. He also watched the victim’s interview at the Children’s Advocacy Center. It resulted in him filing criminal charges against Myers.
During cross-examination, Nedza played Wolff’s entire recorded interview with the victim for the jury. She also pressed Wolff as to why he didn’t ask to see the text messages the victim had sent her mother overnight May 7, 2015, telling her about the alleged sexual abuse.
Wolff said it was irrelevant to his investigation, but they did eventually send the victim’s mother’s phone to the state police computer lab. However, when asked by Nedza, he said they were unable to retrieve any messages.
Under re-direct, Wolff explained that the victim’s mother’s cell phone was damaged, the lab couldn’t even examine it and it was returned to him. He said not having the texts the victim sent to her mother telling her of the abuse didn’t influence his decision to file charges.
The defense began presenting its case Tuesday afternoon. It called three witnesses who had observed Myers and the victim together in the past. All three said their relationship appeared normal, and there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.
Also, the defense called its private investigator, Susan Schick, who had been hired to take numerous pictures and measurements of Myers’ work truck and the Madera residence where the alleged sexual abuse occurred at.
These were all presented while she was on the witness stand; under cross-examination, she also listed the names of numerous people she interviewed as part of her investigation.
Myers was the final witness called by the defense late afternoon. He was shown the same pictures as the private investigator, and he identified each one taken of his work truck and house.
Myers’ testimony will continue at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Clearfield County Court.