Update 2: Rape Allegation Stuns Prosecutor, Defense

By Rob Parsons
Orland Press Register
September 28, 2010

The second of two reported victims in the Carlton F. Hammonds sexual abuse trial shook the Glenn County Superior Court when she testified today that the former Baptist minister had raped her in 2006.

Rape had never been part of the case until the reported victim dropped the bombshell during the second day of testimony at the Orland courthouse.

The fresh allegation caught both prosecutors and the defense off guard, and both sides appeared suspicious of the claim.

Assistant District Attorney Dwayne Stewart asked the witness, whose name is withheld by this newspaper, if she was lying.

“You’ve had memory problems today, and in four years, no one has ever heard of this,” Stewart said. “Why are you talking about it now in front of a room full of strangers?”

The witness, who is now 19, said she was too upset and afraid to talk about the painful episode.

“I felt foul, disgusting; I never wanted to bring it up,” the woman said.

Hammonds’ attorney, Adam B. Ryan, had a different take on the shocking revelation.

“You wanted to ambush Pastor Hammonds,” Ryan said. “You wanted to surprise him and have a courtroom moment like on TV.”

The woman replied she was scared.

“I was scared to say stuff like that. I didn’t trust anyone. I told as much as I could have at that time,” said the woman. “I feel nasty, like dirt, like I’m less than human.”

Ryan also focused in on a specific part of the woman’s testimony when she told Stewart: “I thought what I told you was good enough.”

“You saved (the rape allegation) until you got on the stand, you never said a word - you didn’t tell the truth,” Ryan argued.

Glenn County sheriff’s Det. Kelly Knight, the lead investigator on the case, testified that the woman’s story did change over the years, adding larger and more significant details with each telling, but Knight testified that kind of behavior is common in some victims of sexual abuse.

“Some just are not ready to talk about it, yet,” Knight testified.

Knight said the woman needed to be “coaxed” into revealing many of the details behind the reported attacks, but did say the woman denied being raped when investigators questioned her on multiple occasions.

The allegations against Hammonds, the former pastor at Willows Baptist Church, focus on reported abuses against two girls in 2006.

In his opening statement on Monday, Ryan called Hammonds “a good, decent human being who is absolutely not guilty of these charges.”

“The (case) details just don’t hold up to logic and common sense,” Ryan said.

Ryan told jurors they would hear evidence that would not only vindicate his client, but would also explain why the reported victims would lie.

“It really only takes one person making one statement to get it all rolling,” Ryan told the jury.

Stewart described Hammonds as a predator that “took advantage of his position as a pastor and preyed on (the victims.)

“That’s what this defendant is,” Stewart told the jurors.

Hammonds, 57, was the only witness called by the defense.

The defendant admitted that he hugged members of his congregation and even told them he loved them, but never in a sexual manner.

He denied any wrongdoing, saying the reported incidents were simply fictional.

Hammonds also acknowledged that some of the girls in his congregation would give him shoulder rubs.

“There was nothing romantic or sexual about it,” Hammonds testified.

Hammonds appeared to get choked up when his attorney asked him point blank if he is sexually attracted to children.

“Absolutely not,” the defendant replied.

Hammonds said he was hurt by the allegations and had no idea why the witnesses would fabricate such stories.

“It makes me sick in my stomach to talk about,” Hammonds testified.

Judge Peter B. Tweed ended the day’s proceedings at about 2:40 p.m. He is scheduled to give the jury of eight women and four men instructions Wednesday morning.


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