Two weeks later Jay took a phone call from Ms. Adkins. "Jayson, after the hearing last week where you and Kyle were awarded full and legal custody of Janita, I swore out the complaint against her parents for child abuse and neglect. The trial is set for two weeks from tomorrow. We'll need the two of you there, as well as Janita. Given the closeness of Janita and Adam, it would be beneficial if he were there as well."
"As if we could stop him." He replied. "Do I need to get her a lawyer?"
"No, my office will provide any and all necessary legal counsel. However, we will all need to sit down with the attorney at some point before the trial to go over procedures, testimonies etcetera. I won't kid you. It could get ugly. Very ugly. You all need to be prepared. Janita especially as I'm sure the defense attorney will try to rip her to shreds. We'll also have to have a psychological assessment done on her."
"Her parents did a real number on her. Despite all of our reassurances, she's still expecting us to either turn her into Cinderella with us as the evil step-family, or kick her out. She refuses to use her cell phone or any other electronic device we have given her with the exception of her computer, and that she only uses to do schoolwork on. I told her, and Kyle has told her that she does not have to cook or do the laundry. We're close to putting a lock on the laundry room door to keep her out of it."
"Let her do the laundry and house cleaning. It's all she knows. Let her do it for a couple of months, then gradually wean her from it. It's kind of like her security blanket. She grew up knowing that doing all of these chores were payment for her food, room and board. Taking those things from her is probably making her feel like a freeloader, and that could make her think that she'll be thrown out any time because she's not earning her keep."
"I understand what you're saying. We want so much to give her the life she should have had and deserves, even though she doesn't see it that way."
"Now you see why she's scared of being sent back to the shelter."
"I'll discuss it with Kyle. Perhaps if we allow her to do the laundry and help with the housecleaning, it will help her adjust better. Hell, she won't even go out with her girlfriend, and I think the only time she uses her allowance we give her is for feminine hygiene supplies. I don't know what she does with the rest of it. We give her twenty-five dollars a week."
"Just be patient with her. It's a huge adjustment for her and it's going to take time. As far as her cell phone goes, you might want to have Adam, her girlfriend and other friends call her from time to time. Once she's comfortable with answering calls, she'll start to get comfortable making calls."
"Okay. Thanks, Ms. Adkins."
Two weeks later…..
"All rise. This court is now in session, The Superior court of Massachusetts is in now in session, the Honorable Judge Marilyn Cunningham presiding. Your Honor, this case is the State versus Franklin and Josephine Conklin, docket number 656-279D and docket number 656-280D respective." He handed the judge a file.
"Thank you, Bailiff. Everyone, please be seated." She quickly scanned the paperwork the bailiff handed her. She looked at the defense table. "Mr. Conklin and Mrs. Conklin." They both stood as she addressed them. "You, Mr. Conklin are charged with one count of violation of a lawful restraining order, one count of resisting arrest, two counts of endangering the welfare of a minor, two counts of physical abuse and one count of a hate crime. You,, Mrs. Conklin, have been also charged with one count of violating a restraining order, two counts of endangering the welfare of a minor, two counts of physical abuse, two counts of mental abuse and one count of a hate crime. How do you both plead?"
"Your Honor, on behalf of both of my clients, I'm authorized to plead not guilty to all charges and specifications." The defense attorney answered, rising and bowing the judge. "Very well I will enter the plea as such." She consulted her calendar and made a quick notation. "Your trial will begin two weeks from today." The judge banged her gavel. Everyone rose as she left the bench.
Two weeks later…
"The Superior court of Massachusetts is in now in session, the Honorable Judge Marilyn Cunningham presiding. Your Honor, this case is the State versus Franklin and Josephine Conklin, docket number 656-279D and docket number 646-280D respective." He handed the judge a file.
"Please be seated. I assumed that all parties are ready to proceed?"
"Yes, Your Honor." Both attorneys answered. "Very well Mr. Toronas you may begin your opening argument."
"Thank you, Your Honor. Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Today you will hear a case about acts so painful, so heinous that you would wonder what kind of people and parents the defendants are. Let me give you a little background about why you are here today, On April fourth of this year, the Provincetown High School nurse notified the defendants that their daughter Janita had not been in school all week. The nurse was told that, and I quote, 'that cunt-lapping fucking lesbian is no longer our daughter. We threw her dyke ass out along with the rest of the trash when all of our efforts to reorient her failed'. The defendants that sit before you are accused of committing heinous and violent acts against their daughter. It's inconceivable that anyone could perpetrate these acts of violence and abuse against their own flesh and blood, yet I intend to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they did indeed commit those acts knowingly and willingly. You will hear testimony not just from medical professionals and law enforcement officials, but you will also hear from the victim herself and after hearing what has been done to that poor defenseless child that will undoubtedly shock you and make you want to go right home and hug your children. Thank you."
"Thank you, Your Honor. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, before you sit two people who have been wrongfully accused of committing terrible acts. Both are upstanding pillars of their community. One is a top-rated stock analyst for one of the most respected financial firms in Boston, the other is a respected legal secretary with a very prestigious law firm right here in Provincetown. I intend to prove to you without a shadow of a doubt that the state's case against my clients is completely false and that these two fine people are loving, nurturing, caring parents and the charges were brought against them by an ungrateful, spoiled, teenaged brat and her less-than-desirable, homosexual foster parents."
"Mr. Walters, I will not tolerate anyone making disparaging remarks towards another person, or cast aspersions on anyone's character in my courtroom. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Your Honor. I apologize." The judge instructed the jury to disregard the ending of the defense attorney's remarks and have them stricken from the record.
"For my first witness, I call Provincetown High School Nurse Caroline Marquette to the stand." The nurse took the stand and was sworn in. "Nurse Marquette, how long have you been the Provincetown High School nurse?"
"Are you an RN or an LPN?"
"I am an RN."
"So, as an RN, you would recognize the symptoms of physical abuse?"
"Yes, all nurses are trained to recognize such symptoms."
"Are you familiar with Miss Conklin over there?"
"To the best of your knowledge, has she ever exhibited the symptoms of abuse?"
"One time she came to school with a black eye. When I asked her about it, she said she was trying to get a box down from her closet shelf and she dropped it and it hit her in the face. She was very nervous and evasive. Classic symptoms of physical abuse. In addition, her physical education teacher informed me that she saw several welts on her back, the shape of which suggested that she had been struck repeatedly by an object such as a belt."
"And this Phys Ed teacher, would she recognize signs that a child was being physically abused?"
"All teachers, nurses, and administrators in the state of Massachusetts are required to undergo extensive training on recognizing the signs and symptoms of physical and mental abuse."
"In your professional opinion, would you classify Janita Conklin as a victim of physical abuse?"
"Not only physical abuse, but mental abuse as well."
`"Would you please explain to the jury the events of April fourth of this year?"
"On April fourth of this year, I notified the Conklins that Janita had not been in school all week. I was told that, and I quote, 'that cunt-lapping fucking lesbian is no longer our daughter. We threw her dyke ass out along with the rest of the trash when all of our efforts to reorient her failed'." The judge's face started turning red with anger. She glared at the Conklins, who just sat there with smug looks on their faces. "Child Protective Services was immediately notified, as were the police who began a city-wide search for her, using her school ID photo."
Mr. Toronas picked up where she left off. "She was found four days later in the park. She was taken to County General where she was treated for malnutrition, hypothermia, and dehydration. There were also numerous bruises covering most of her torso, arms, and legs. Some bruises were fairly fresh, and some were old. I'd like to admit into evidence State's Exhibit A, medical documentation and photographs of the bruises." Upon receiving a nod from the judge, the prosecutor handed her a thick envelope. Astonishment covered the judge's face as she scanned the pictures. Wordlessly she handed them to the bailiff who in turn handed them to the jury, their faces mimicking the judge's.
"Thank you, Nurse Marquette. I have no further questions, Your Honor."
"Mr. Walters?" She shot him a warning glance.
"Thank you, Your Honor. Nurse Marquette, how would you recognize the symptoms of physical abuse?"
"Repeated bruises such as black eyes don't go away, welts on the back, arms, and legs. Victims of physical abuse will become nervous and evasive when asked how the injuries occurred. They will often say 'a box fell off the shelf', which is the most common explanation. They'll also say things like 'I ran into the door' or 'I slipped and fell down the stairs'. Things like that."
"Isn't it possible that what Miss Conklin said about the dropping the box is true, that she did accidentally drop it?"
"It's possible, but highly unlikely."
"And why is that?"
"When something is about to hit us in our face, we instinctively either put our hands up in front of our face, or turn our heads to protect our face. Miss Conklin would have instinctively either put her hands in front of her face or turned or ducked her head so that the box would have struck the top or the side of her head and not her eye."
Damn! "Nurse Marquette, you also testified that the gym teacher told you that she saw belt-shaped welts on her back. Can sitting in a chair the wrong way, or accidentally bumping into a locker door cause a similar welt?"
"I cannot say one way or the other since I did not personally see the welts, but I have no reason to doubt the physical education teacher."
"No further questions, Your Honor."
The prosecutor stood up. "Permission to redirect, Your Honor?"
"I have just one more question. You mentioned in your earlier testimony that all teachers, nurses and administrators in this state receive the extensive training in recognizing abuse. Are you taught to distinguish welts and bruises made by objects such as hands, fists, baseball bats, belts, broom handles, etcetera from purely accidental bumping into doors?"
"Yes. Bruises made by hands, fists, baseball bats and belts are indeed readily identifiable and discernible. Others are not so easy to identify."
"Thank you, Nurse."
"You may step down. Call your next witness, please, Mr. Toronas."
"The State calls Ms. Connie Adkins."
After she was seated and sworn in, the prosecutor began. "Ms. Adkins, what do you do for a living?"
"I have a master's degree in social work, and I work for Child Protective Services."
"And what is your involvement with Miss Conklin?"
"My office received a call from Nurse Marquette stating that Miss Conklin had missed quite a bit of school. She also relayed her suspicions that she had been physically abused."
"And what did you do?"
"I filled out the necessary paperwork to remove Miss Conklin from the residence and place her into a women's shelter pending the outcome of an investigation."
"And what happened then?"
"I went to the Conklin residence with the paperwork to take Miss Conklin to the women's shelter."
"How did that go?"
"Mr. Conklin met me at the door. I showed him my identification, stated the purpose of the visit and showed him the paperwork. He snatched the paperwork out of my hands and ripped it up, stating that I wasn't taking anyone anywhere and if I set foot on his property again, he'd blow my head off with a shotgun and slammed the door in my face."
"What did you do then?"
"I went back to my car and called the police, then got another copy of the paperwork. I waited until the police arrived before going back up to the door."
"Ms. Adkins, do you make it a habit of going to people's homes without a police escort?"
"And why is that?"
"Sometimes complaints are filed against a family by disgruntled neighbors, or neighbors who witness something that, at first glance could be considered to be an abusive situation, but in actuality isn't, simply a misinterpretation. Since such complaints can be unfounded, it saves the family any unnecessary embarrassment."
"I see. So, what happened when the police arrived?"
"I went back up to the door with two police officers and rang the doorbell. Mr. Conklin opened the door, pointed a shotgun at me and told me to get off his property. He was arrested for attempted assault with a deadly weapon and I took Janita to the women's shelter where she remained until she was placed with the Matthews-Williams family."
"They were the best choice possible and in the best position to help Janita with certain aspects of her personal life, which I cannot divulge. They have been an outstanding foster family. Of course, it helped that the Matthews-Williams' son Adam was already a close friend of Janita's. The family has gone to extraordinary lengths to provide a good home for her and to provide for her needs."
"Thank you, Ms. Adkins. I'm glad Janita had someone like you to look out for her. No further questions, Your Honor."
"I have no questions for this witness, Your Honor."
"You may step down, Ms. Adkins."
"What do you mean you have no questions?" Conklin whispered to his attorney.
"There's nothing to be gained as everything in her testimony is a matter of record. She cannot divulge anything more than she already has without breaking the law."
"Your Honor, I call Sergeant Gregory Peters to the stand." Greg took the stand and was sworn in.
"Sergeant Peters, what is your current role with the PPD?"
"I am assigned to the Lesbian and Gay Anti-violence Task Force operating out of the fifteenth precinct."
"It is my understanding that you and your partner, Officer William Bailey, were the ones who found Miss Conklin."
"That is correct."
"How is it that you and your partner were looking for her?"
"The task force was notified by Child Protective Services that a teenage lesbian girl who may have been the victim of domestic violence was missing. As such, the investigation fell under our jurisdiction."
"How is it that it fell under your jurisdiction when the area that the Conklins live in falls under the fourth precinct?"
"It doesn't matter where in the city the alleged crime occurs, or where in the city the victim and their family lives. All incidents of violence, suspected or proven, against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered people fall under our jurisdiction."
"Can you tell me where you found her?"
"She was lying in a copse of trees near the fish pond."
"And what was her condition?"
"OBJECTION! The witness is not a qualified to render a medical diagnosis."
"Your Honor, I'm not asking for a medical diagnosis, simply in the condition that the witness found Miss Conklin."
"Overruled. Please answer the question, Sergeant Peters."
"Yes, Your Honor. We found Miss Conklin unconscious. She had no shoes and her clothing was filthy and torn. It appeared that she may have been there for several days. We immediately called for a bus."
"What do you mean by bus?"
"I'm sorry. Bus, is slang for the ambulance."
"Thank you for clarifying that. What happened then?"
"The paramedics arrived, started an IV then loaded her into the bus –er– ambulance. I rode in the back with them to Country General."
"Sergeant Peters, is it normal for a police officer to ride to the hospital?"
"It depends. If the victim has been beaten, stabbed, shot, sexually assaulted, unconscious or under arrest yes. Otherwise, no."
"Thank you. No more questions, Your Honor."
"Sergeant Peters, are you gay?"
"Isn't it true that you are very close to the Matthews-Williams family and in fact having an affair with Kyle Matthews-Williams?"
"Lends to credibility of the witness, Your Honor."
"What does his relationship with the Matthews-Williams family have to do with this case?"
"Your Honor, I intend to prove that this is all a conspiracy against my clients."
"I will give you this one, Mr. Walters, but you better make your case and make it fast." I'm so tired of you and your supposed conspiracies. "Overruled. The witness will answer the question."
"We are friends that hang out on occasion, and no, I never had any kind of affair with Kyle. I'm in a very stable and loving long-term relationship and will do nothing to screw that up."
Shit! So much for discrediting him! "Sergeant Peters, you testified about the condition in which you found Miss Conklin. Could those injuries have resulted from a fall?"
"I'm not a medical professional, so I couldn't say one way or another, but I supposed it is possible, although I saw nothing that she could have struck her head on, and the area where we found her is totally flat, grass-covered land. While there was some bruising on her arms, legs and lower back, there were none on her face or neck to indicate that she had struck something when she fell, but then again, I'm not a doctor so I can only speculate on the cause of her condition. However, I have responded to a large number of domestic abuse calls, and her bruises appeared to be consistent with domestic violence."
You go, Greg! Kyle mentally cheered.
"How long have you been a police officer?"
"Over ten years."
"So that makes you an expert on domestic violence?"
"I have been provided with very specialized training on recognizing the signs and symptoms of domestic violence through the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the same training that is provided to their field agents."
"So again, I ask you. That makes you an expert?"
"It puts me at the same level as the acknowledged and recognized experts in the police department."
"So, one night while you were having sexual relations with Kyle Matthews-Williams, the two of you cooked up this scheme to get back at the Conklins for bad financial advice?"
"OBJECTION! The witness has already stated that he was not having an affair with Kyle Matthews-Williams, and there is no evidence that supports Counsel's claim of financial malfeasance."
"Sustained. Mr. Walters, I suggest you refrain from conjecture and slander, and confine your case to the established facts."
"Yes, Your Honor. No further questions."
"The witness is excused. Mr. Toronas?"
"I call to the stand Doctor Antonio Torres." The Defense attorney looked shocked. He quickly glanced down at the witness roster and indeed saw Doctor Torres' name on the list. Fuck me! How could I have missed him? He stood up. "Your Honor, I was not aware of this witness."
"Your honor, Counsel for the Defense was provided with our witness roster at the same time you were. There have been no changes."
The judge took out her copy of the witness roster and scanned it. She also took notice of the date. "May I see your copy of the witness roster?" The bailiff took the roster from the defense attorney and handed it to the judge who compared it side by side with her copy. "Your copy is identical to my copy, and in both, the name of Doctor Torres is clearly in evidence. Your overlooking the name of a witness and failing to interview that witness is your problem. Proceed, Mr. Toronas."
"Thank you, Your Honor. Doctor Torres, it is my understanding that you were on duty in the County General Emergency Room on April fourth."
"And were you the physician that examined Miss Conklin?"
"Yes, I was."
"Can you, without violating doctor-patient confidentiality, give us a rundown on her injuries?"
"She was unconscious and severely dehydrated. She was also undernourished. Her legs, back and abdomen were covered with bruises. Routine examinations revealed several bruised ribs. There were no skull fractures, but she did have a concussion. I sent everything to the PPD. We gave her intravenous fluids to rehydrate her and kept her overnight for observations before releasing her to Child Protective Services."
"Any idea as to the cause of the unconsciousness?"
"None that I can say for absolute certainty, although we did find a bruise on the back of her head at the base of the skull that was hidden by her hair. If I had to make a determination, I'd say blunt force trauma."
"Doctor Torres, how long have you been an emergency room doctor?"
"Nineteen years, nine of which were as Chief of Emergency Medicine."
"Thank you, Doctor. Your witness."
"I have no questions for this witness, Your Honor."
"What do you mean you have no questions?" Conklin whispered furiously.
"There is nothing in his testimony that can be used against you. If I cross-examine the doctor, then the Prosecutor can redirect and something, however unlikely, may come out that can be used against you. This is the best course of action. Trust me on this."
The Prosecutor called Kelly to the stand where she was sworn in.
"Miss Anderson, during your deposition you stated that you attempted to bring Miss Conklin's school work to her. Why did you do this?"
"She had missed several days of school. She's a good friend, and I didn't want to see her fall behind."
"Do you know why she missed school?"
"OBJECTION! How would the witness know the reason why she missed school?" The defense attorney was on his feet.
"It's a simple matter to find out. All she had to do was ask Miss Conklin. Overruled." The judge replied
"I don't know for sure, but when I dropped the books off at her house, I saw her standing in the hallway with two black eyes. I could only guess that she didn't want anyone to see her like that. I know I wouldn't."
"Miss Anderson, could you describe the condition in which you saw Miss Conklin in?"
"Her left eye was swollen completely shut…"
"OBJECTION! That could have been caused by allergies."
"Overruled. Please continue, Miss Anderson."
"Yes, Your Honor. There were bruises around both eyes and on both cheeks."
"So, what happened when you brought the schoolwork to Miss Conklin?"
Kelly didn't say anything at first, but shot Janita's father a terrified look, which the prosecutor noticed immediately. "It's okay, Miss Anderson. Nobody's going to hurt you. Please, just answer the question."
Kelly turned to the judge who nodded reassurance. "Could I have some water, please?"
"Bailiff, please bring Miss Anderson a glass of water." The bailiff quickly complied.
"Thank you," Kelly said as she took a big drink while she regained her composure somewhat. "I rang the doorbell. Mr. Conklin answered the door. He said 'Well, I see Sluts-R-Us are out today. What the fuck do you want, bitch?" Adam started bristling. Jay put a hand on his shoulder.
"I NEVER SAID NO SUCH THING. THE FUCKING BITCH IS LYING." Conklin jumped to his feet.
Adam's face burned with rage. The judge pounded her gavel several times to restore order. "Such language and outbursts will not be tolerated in my courtroom. Counselor, I strongly advise you to control your client or I will be forced to find him in contempt of court and have him removed." She told him in an icy tone, which softened when she spoke to Kelly. "Please continue, Miss Anderson."
"Yes, Your Honor. I explained to Mr. Conklin that I brought Janita's homework assignments and books so she could get caught up. I held them out to him, and he knocked them out of my hands. He then said, 'Get over here you worthless cunt and clean this fucking mess up.'" Conklin started to rise again but was restrained by the defense attorney. The judge gave him a look that said 'Go ahead. I dare you'. He settled back in his chair.
"Then what happened?" The prosecutor asked.
"He said 'You've done what you came to do, now get off my property, you cheap whore.' Then he shoved me hard. I fell back against the porch railing and cut my head. I had to have several stitches and suffered a mild concussion." Adam, upon hearing this, jumped up, fists clenched, shaking with rage. Kelly told him she got cut, but not how she got cut nor did she say anything about the concussion. Adam had to be physically restrained by Kyle and Jay. The judge noticed this, but didn't say anything. Adam's fathers' had the situation under control.
"Did you sustain any other injuries other than the cut and the concussion?"
"That's good. No further questions, Your Honor."
The defense attorney approached Kelly. It would be pointless to rebut what he said to her. That moron's actions made it appear very likely that he did say those things. Maybe I can get her to say that she could have just dropped the books instead him of knocking them out of her hands. He smiled warmly at her. "Miss Anderson, I'm sorry you were injured and I'm glad it wasn't more serious." Hopefully, if I play nice, I can gain her confidence and get her to question her own testimony. "A few minutes ago, you stated that you held out the books to Mr. Conklin, and he deliberately knocked them out of your hands, did you not?"
"No. I did not say he deliberately knocked them out of my hands. What I said was that I held them out to him, and he knocked them out of my hands. I did not use the word 'deliberately'."
Damn. Either she's been coached really good, or she watches a lot of courtroom dramas. "Miss Anderson, isn't it possible that knocking the books out of your hand was totally by accident?"
"I don't believe so. I believe it was deliberate."
"He didn't try to take the books like this." She stretched out both arms, palms facing and in line with each other about a foot apart, then slowly brought her hands together, simulating grabbing the books from above and below. "Instead he did this." She extended one arm out at an approximate forty-five-degree upward angle, clenched her fist and brought it down rapidly. "Then he said what he said to Janita about picking them up."
Shit. I can't attack her testimony. Perhaps I can attack her and discredit her. "Miss Anderson, how were you dressed?"
"What were you wearing?"
"I had on a long-sleeve turtle-neck sweater, a knee-length skirt, pantyhose, and high-heeled shoes. I was going to go to work at the Fashion Palace right after I dropped the books off."
"Was the sweater tight in all the right places and the skirt slit up the front?"
"OBJECTION! Your Honor, Miss Anderson is the Assistant Manager at the Fashion Palace, and as such, she would have been dressed as fitting her position in a high-end retail store."
At the same time, the defense attorney asked Kelly "Are you sure you weren't dressed like a hootchie-mama giving Mr. Conklin cause to call you a slut and a cheap whore?"
Adam lunged towards the railing. He wanted to rip the defense attorney's head off. It was all Kyle and Jay could do to restrain him. The judge pounded her gavel several times. "I WILL HAVE ORDER IN THIS COURTROOM OR IT WILL BE CLEARED. IS THAT UNDERSTOOD?" Order was quickly restored. She addressed Adam, who was still struggling in the strong grip of his fathers. "Young man, who are you and why are you here?"
Adam bowed to the judge and began, respectfully. "Your Honor, I'm Adam Matthews-Williams. Janita Conklin is my foster sister and Kelly Anderson is my fiancé."
"I see. While I quite understand your anger and your obvious desire to protect the ones that you love, I cannot and will not condone such disruptive behavior. If it continues, I will have you removed from my courtroom and barred from these proceedings. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Your Honor. I apologize for my conduct. It won't happen again."
"Apology accepted." She turned to the prosecutor. "Objection sustained." She turned to the defense attorney. "You're skating on very thin ice, Mr. Walters." She glared at him. "Do you have any further questions for this witness?"
"No, Your Honor." He said meekly.
"You are excused, Miss Anderson. Call your next witness, Mr. Toronas."
"The State calls Doctor George Foster." Doctor Foster took the stand and was sworn in.
"Doctor Foster, what is your current position?"
"I am the Chief of Staff at County General Hospital with privileges at Massachusetts General Hospital."
"And what is your field of practice?"
"I am board certified in internal medicine, psychiatry and psychology."
"Doctor Foster, did you examine Miss Conklin?"
"Can you tell us about what took place during the examination?"
"I'm afraid I cannot. Doctor-patient confidentiality and HIPPA laws prohibit me from releasing such information without the consent of the patient, or in this case, the patient's guardian since the patient is a minor."
"I see. Does this consent have to come from a biological parent, or can it come from a foster parent?"
"Either will suffice."
"Your Honor, I have a release of medical information authorization form here signed by Jayson Matthew-Williams, Janita Conklin's foster father."
"OBJECTION! Null and void, Your Honor. Mr. Conklin does not give consent for the information to be released."
"Your Honor, I have documentation here stating that Franklin and Josephine Conklin have legally disowned their daughter Janita Conklin, thus forfeiting all parental rights."
"May I see both documents, please?" The Prosecutor handed the documents to the bailiff who passed them to the judge. She studied both documents carefully for a few minutes. "Everything is in order. Objection overruled. Doctor Foster, you are authorized to release the outcome of the examination and diagnosis only. No other details regarding any procedures or recommended therapies may be discussed." She showed the consent form to Doctor Foster then gave it and the disownment documentation to the bailiff to be returned to the Prosecutor. She looked at the Prosecutor. "Keep your questions within the confines of the release form, Mr. Toronas."
"Of course, Your Honor. Doctor Foster, you examined Miss Conklin?"
"And what is your professional diagnosis?"
"Physical, mental, and emotional abuse."
"Any doubt in your mind?"
"I'm not sure if you can answer this question because of the legalities involved, but do you have any idea who may have perpetrated the abuse you mention."
"And is this person in the courtroom today?"
"Who is that person? Can you tell us?"
"Yes. Mr. AND Mrs. Conklin."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure beyond a shadow of a doubt."
"OBJECTION! The witness did not see the abuse take place, therefore he cannot say for any certainty that it was my clients who perpetrated the alleged abuse."
"I've known Doctor Foster for many years. If he says it, you can believe it. Overruled."
"No more questions, Your Honor."
"Doctor Foster, can you tell the difference between someone who is telling the truth and someone who is crying wolf just to get attention or to get back at someone."
"In most cases, yes."
"Isn't it possible that Miss Conklin lied to you?"
"I do not believe she did."
"I don't believe you. I think you're lying. You like accusing upstanding businessmen and women like Franklin and Josephine Conklin of abuse, don't you? Especially black ones."
"OBJECTION! Doctor Foster is not on trial here."
"SUSTAINED! Doctor Foster, you are excused with my apologies. Attorneys for the defense, approach the bench." The defense attorneys approached the bench. "I warned you about your conduct, Mr. Walters. You are hereby held in contempt of court, fined five thousand dollars and sentenced to six months in jail. In addition, formal letters of apology will be written to Doctor Foster, Miss Anderson, Miss Conklin, the Matthews-Williams family AND this court which I will read before they are sent to them. If they don't meet with my approval, they will be rewritten. Is that understood?" He nodded. "Furthermore, I will be requesting a formal investigation by the Massachusetts State Bar Association. Bailiff, Mr. Walters is remanded into custody. Take him away. Ms. Solomon, proceed with your case, with caution."
"Yes, Your Honor."
"I'm going to start breaking some heads if I don't start getting decent representation." Mr. Conklin threatened under his breath.
"If you are unhappy with the way you are being represented, then you can fire me and either find another attorney or represent yourself."
"Fine. You're fired."
"As you wish." She stood up. "May I approach the bench, Your Honor?"
Both attorneys stepped up to the bench. The judge turned her microphone off. "What do you wish to say?"
"I must inform both you and the prosecutor that the Conklins are unhappy with their current representation and have fired my firm. They will be representing themselves."
The judge turned her microphone back on. "Mr. and Mrs. Conklin. It is my understanding that you have dismissed your current defense attorney and intend on representing yourselves. Is this correct?"
"Yes, Your Honor."
"I must inform you that it is highly inadvisable, and I am calling a forty-eight-hour recess while you reconsider your actions and I strongly recommend that you seek counsel. Court is in recess and will resume nine a.m. Wednesday morning." She struck her gavel. Everyone rose as she left the room.
Kyle, Jay, Adam, Janita and the prosecutor huddled around the table. "What was that all about?" Jay asked.
"The Conklins are in deep shit. Given his attitude and his actions, I think the judge is ready to throw the book at him. I can see it in her eyes. Firing his attorney and representing himself almost guarantees they'll lose. Most judges would just go with it, but Judge Cunningham is giving him time to reconsider. She's not going to chance them winning an appeal and possibly getting Janita back."
"Can they do that?"
"It's extremely unlikely, but a higher court could overturn any convictions on the grounds that they were improperly represented. I've been in her courtroom countless times and trust me when I say that she wants to fry his ass, legally and irrevocably."
"So, what's next?"
"I'm going to put you on the stand next, Jayson to testify about his violating the restraining order, and then I'll put Janita on the stand. I want the judge to know what her home life was like before." He turned to Janita. "The defense attorney will try to rip you apart, but I assure you, it's absolutely necessary. I think tomorrow we should do a run through. I'll play both roles. That way everyone will be somewhat prepared."
"Sounds good to me. Let's go home, guys. I think tacos are in order."
Wednesday morning found them back into the courtroom. It was going to be a very difficult day for the Matthews-Williams family on two fronts. They were first and foremost concerned with Janita and how she would hold up under what promised to be a vicious cross-examination by the Defense attorney. They were also concerned with Adam. He loved his foster sister dearly and was fiercely protective of her. They just prayed he could refrain from ripping somebody's head off. He'd already been warned once by the judge. Next time he could face charges and that wouldn't help anyone.
The prosecutor began his day by calling Jay to the stand. Having been on the witness stand many times throughout his law-enforcement career, he was completely calm, detached and professional.
"Mr. Matthews-Williams, please state your current occupation for the record."
"I am an FBI Special Agent currently assigned to the Bias and Hate Crimes Unit."
"Thank you, Agent Matthews-Williams. It is my understanding that you filed for an order of protection for Miss Conklin against her parents. Is that correct?"
"Partially correct. An order of protection was filed, but it was filed by Child Protection Services after we were informed by Miss Anderson of Miss Conklin's apparent abuse committed by her father."
"And how did Miss Anderson come by this information?"
Fuck! If I answer, Conklin's lawyer is going to object due to hearsay. "She was informed by Miss Conklin herself."
Way to go, Jay, you stupid fucking ass-wipe! Jay mentally beat himself up.
"Special Agent Matthews-Williams, was an order of protection granted for Miss Conklin?"
"Yes, there was."
"Move to strike, Your Honor. There is no evidence that an order of protection was filed against my client."
"Check your facts, Counselor. I issued that order of protection. Overruled. Proceed, Mr. Toronas."
"Thank you, Your Honor."
"Special Agent Matthews-Williams, was that order of protection served to the Conklins?"
"I have no reason to believe it was not as I was given a copy of the order of protection as was the manager of the women's shelter."
"OBJECTION, Your Honor. Speculation. How would the witness know that a copy of the order of protection was given to the shelter manager?"
"I'm about to make that clear, Your Honor."
"See that you do. Objection overruled."
I can't get a break with this faggot-loving judge. Conklin fumed, rapidly reaching his boiling point.
"Okay, so you and your husband were granted emergency temporary custody of Miss Conklin pending permanent custody approval. Correct?"
"So please tell the court what happened when your family went to pick up Miss Conklin at the women's shelter."
"We arrived at the shelter to find a man later to be identified as Mr. Conklin, loudly proclaiming that the shelter manager had no right to keep him from seeing his daughter."
"He could be heard from the street. The shelter is set back approximately one hundred feet from the road, and there was a lot of traffic at that time."
"As I approached the shelter, I saw Ms. Timmons, the shelter manager, show Mr. Conklin a piece of paper and heard her tell him that he was in violation of a restraining order preventing him and his wife from being within five hundred feet of Miss Conklin. When he refused to leave, she told him that if he didn't leave, she would call the police."
"Did she have the order of protection with her at the time?"
"Yes, she did."
"Did you see her show it to Mr. Conklin?"
"I saw her show a piece of paper to Mr. Conklin."
"But that could have been anything, even a shopping list."
"But it wasn't. At that point in time, I identified myself as an FBI Special Agent, showed my ID to both of them and told Ms. Timmons that she did not need to call the police. She showed me the paper, and it was indeed a copy of the order of protection. Mr. Conklin then asked if I was going to order Ms. Timmons to hand 'his daughter', his words, not mine, over to him. I informed him that since he and his wife legally disowned her, that she was no longer his daughter, and that my husband and I had been awarded legal custody of her and were there to take her home. I further informed him that he had ten seconds to leave or I would arrest him for violating the restraining order. Mr. Conklin then informed me that I did not have the authority to arrest him and he wasn't leaving without Miss Conklin."
"And what did you do then?"
"I once again showed him my ID, read him his Miranda rights and placed him under arrest. He said, 'yeah right' and started to walk away. I told him to stop where he was, or I would add the charge of resisting arrest to the violation of a lawful restraining order charge. At the same time, my husband called nine-one-one and explained the situation. Mr. Conklin then asked me how I proposed to stop him. I drew my service weapon, ensured that the safety was on, and pointed it at him. He then said, and I quote, 'so the big, bad faggot FBI agent wants to play cops and robbers? Go play somewhere else'. He turned and continued to walk away. The local police arrived and took him away. Ms. Timmons, my husband, Miss Conklin and I filled out statements."
"Thank you, Special Agent." He turned to the court-appointed Defense attorney. "Your witness."
"Special Agent Matthews-Williams. I have the police report here. It states that you discharged your weapon."
"I fired a warning shot into the ground approximately fifteen feet away from where Mr. Conklin was standing."
"That seems a bit excessive, don't you think?"
"In my opinion, it was warranted."
"How was it warranted? He was leaving the area, which is what you wanted in the first place. I submit that the situation turned into a pissing match between two alpha males and because you didn't get your way, you exceeded your authority and tried to shoot my client."
"OBJECTION! Counsel was not there to witness the situation."
"I'd like to answer the question, if I may, Your Honor."
"You may. Overruled."
"First, Mr. Conklin had no right being there since one, he and Mrs. Conklin legally disowned Miss Conklin and therefore surrendered all parental rights, and two, even if there was a screw-up and they weren't served with the order of protection, it was shown to him at the shelter. He was legally required to leave the premises immediately, which he refused to do, even when I ordered him to after identifying myself and showing him my badge and ID. At that point, since Mr. Conklin refused to leave a place where he was prohibited from being at, I was duty bound to arrest him. When he resisted arrest, I fired a warning shot which had the desired effect of stopping him until the local authorities apprehended him. I am an expert marksman. At no time was Mr. Conklin in danger of being shot."
"But you could have allowed him to walk away."
"I could have, but then I would have been in dereliction of duty as a Federal Agent sworn to uphold the law."
"How long have you been with the FBI, Special Agent Matthews-Williams?"
"And in all that time, you've never allowed a person to simply walk away? How very alpha male macho of you. Things weren't going your way, so you decided to play the big bad cop and threaten the life of my client."
"OBJECTION. Your Honor, Defense Counsel is badgering and slandering the witness."
"I find that, given the circumstances, Special Agent Matthew-Williams acted properly, with considerable restraint. Most cops would have shot him in the leg or something to prevent him from leaving. Objection sustained."
The Defense attorney sighed. "No further questions, your honor."
"The witness is excused. We will take a one-hour recess for lunch. We will resume at one o'clock." The judge pounded her gavel and left the courtroom.
As they gathered around their table at Friendly's, Kyle took Jay's hand. "I'm so proud of you, baby. I thought for sure that bitch was going to get your testimony thrown out. You handled it beautifully."
"Thanks, baby. I did too. Fortunately, I've testified in numerous cases before Judge Cunningham and during one trial she had a routine background investigation done on me, so she knows that I'm a good Fed. But let's not talk about the trial. Let's talk about doing something special this weekend. I'm up for Six Flags. How about you all?" The rest of their lunch conversation revolved around going to Six Flags and how much fun Janita, who had never been to the water theme park, was going to have. It came as no surprise to anyone that she didn't know how to swim. Kyle would make sure that by the time the weekend rolled around, she would learn.
Back in the courtroom, Janita was called to the stand to testify. Having run through a mock question and answer session the previous day, Janita knew the questions she was going to be asked and had her answers prepared.
"Miss Conklin, please explain to me what your average day was like."
"They were pretty much the same. Monday through Friday I would get up at five a.m. and prepare breakfast for my parents. While they were eating breakfast, I would prepare their lunches. After breakfast I would take my one piece of toast and half-glass of orange juice, sit on the floor in the corner and eat. Then I would wash, dry and put away the breakfast dishes and go to school."
"You only had one piece of toast and a half a glass of orange juice for breakfast?"
"It was all that I was allowed to have, and I was not allowed to eat at the table." Tears flowed down Adam's cheeks when he heard this. Even though he already knew about it, it still hurt him deeply to hear the abuse she was subjected to. Kyle and Jay's eyes weren't exactly dry either.
"After school what did you do?"
"They required me to give up all of my extra-curricular activities in order to come home directly after school and prepare dinner and do the laundry and pick up after my parents. After dinner I again washed, dried and put away the dishes, then went upstairs to do my homework."
"What extra-curricular activities?"
"I was captain of the cheerleading squad and women's softball team, and head of the debate team. I was also in the drama club and chorus."
"I'm sorry you had to give all that up. It sounds like you had a busy school life."
"Was this the same routine every day?"
"It differed on the weekends."
"I wasn't in school on the weekends so that time was taken up with yard work, cleaning the pool or snow shoveling in the wintertime."
"Surely mowing with a riding mower didn't take that much time. You must have had some time to enjoy the pool?"
"My parents didn't have a riding mower. They had a push mower, and I was not allowed to use the pool as I had not earned that privilege."
"Your Honor, I have a statement here from City Hall that puts the size of the Conklin property at three-point-five acres, which, in my opinion, is way too much to mow by hand, especially in the heat of summer."
"OBJECTION, Your Honor. The prosecutor is stating his own opinion."
"Sustained. Please continue, Miss Conklin."
"After dinner, since I didn't have schoolwork to do, I was required to do all of the housecleaning."
"And what were your parents doing all this time?"
"In the summertime they would be swimming in the pool and throwing pool parties, for which I was required to prepare all of the food and do all the cleanup."
"Were you allowed to attend the parties and partake of the food you prepared?"
"No, sir, never."
"And how long did this continue?"
"Up until three months after my fifteenth birthday."
"What happened then?"
"I told my parents that I was a lesbian and was in love with another woman."
"How did your family react to that?"
"My mother refused to say anything to me ever again. She wouldn't even look at me. My father told me to retract what I just said, or I would be punished."
"And did you?"
Janita gave Janine a loving smile. "No. I would not lie about who I was, nor would I deny my love for my girlfriend."
"And were you punished?"
"He'd beat me."
"Beat you how?"
"At first, all he did was slap me around. When I still refused to lie about my sexuality, he started beating me with his whatever he could get his hands on. Usually, it was his belt, but sometimes it was with the heel of his shoe or other objects."
"At which point did you tell him that you lied about your sexuality and that you were, in fact, straight?"
"I never did."
"So, you continued to maintain that you were a lesbian and in love with another woman."
"So, what did your parents do then?"
"I was put into a sexual reorientation program."
"How did that go?"
"It was horrible."
"It is my understanding that sexual reorientation programs often use aversion therapy such as electro-shock to the nipples and genitalia of the patient. Did that happen to you?"
"Yes, at least twice a day while I was in the program."
"Did it have the effect of changing your sexuality?"
"No, it did not."
"So, since sexual reorientation failed, what did your father do?"
"He forced himself on me, sexually"
"He had sex with you?"
"Yes, numerous times."
"Did you willingly submit?"
"Not once. He forced me to have sex with him each time, usually tying me to the bed. He got me pregnant twice, and I had to have abortions."
"Your honor, I have a statement of charges from Planned Parenthood for two abortions performed on a Miss Janita Conklin." He handed the bill to the bailiff to be passed to the judge.
At this point, Mr. Conklin jumped up and screamed at Janita. "I'll teach you to tell bald-faced lies about me." He whipped off his belt, doubled it over and slapped it against the table. Janita let out a blood-curdling scream, and cowered in the corner of the witness box, covering her face and head with her arms and started crying hysterically. The judge stood up and pounded her gavel several times. "Bailiff, handcuff the Conklins. Jayson, please tend to Janita. Kyle and Jay both rushed to Janita and gathered her in their arms and led her back to the back of the courtroom where they were eventually able to calm her down. Nothing, however, would calm the seething judge down. Adam looked like he was ready to rip Mr. Conklin apart with his bare hands, and the judge was sorely tempted to let him do so. She fixed the Conklins with an icy glare and her voice was filled with venom. "In all my years on the bench, I have never, ever seen such reprehensible behavior. The two of you are most definitely unfit to be parents. The Defense attorney opened her mouth to say something, but the judge stopped her. "Save it. I've heard all I need to hear, and I'm sure the jury has as well." She turned to the Social worker. "All remaining Conklin children are to be taken into protective custody immediately.
"There are no other children, Your Honor. Janita is an only child."
"I guess we can be thankful for that. Court is in recess until nine a.m." she glanced at her calendar, "three weeks from tomorrow." She slammed her gavel down with such force that the handle broke.
When the court reconvened three weeks later, as the judge took the bench, she noticed that Mr. Conklin was seated at the defense table in handcuffs. Mrs. Conklin was not. The Defense attorney stood up. "Before we proceed, Your Honor, I would like to request that my client's handcuffs be removed."
"Given your client's attitude and actions throughout this trial, I feel that he is a threat to Miss Conklin. Request denied." Kyle, Jay, and Adam all breathed a collective sigh of relief. "Miss Conklin, please return to the witness stand. Remember, you are still under oath. Mr. Toronas do you have any further questions for this witness?"
"Yes, Your Honor. Miss Conklin, before we begin let me remind you that you are still under oath."
"Now, after your father repeatedly had sexual relations with you did it have the desired effect of reversing your sexuality?"
"No, it did not."
"So, then what happened?"
"He beat me up and threw me out."
"Janita, how old were you when you were thrown out of your house?" The judge asked.
Janita shot a terrified look towards her parents, but didn't say a word.
"Fifteen, Your Honor," Janita mumbled. Fortunately, the microphone on the table picked up her mumbling so everyone heard her response. Again, she shot her parents a terrified look, which did not go unnoticed by the judge.
"And how old are you now?"
"I will be seventeen in three months."
"I see. Thank you, Janita." The judge said as she jotted a couple of quick notes. "Proceed, Mr. Toronas."
"No further questions, Your Honor."
"Thank you, Your Honor. Miss Conklin, you explained to us your daily schedule. Would you like me to have the court reporter read it back to you?"
"No, thank you."
"It seems like you had a very regimented day."
"Both of your parents are engaged in professions that require considerable focus and attention to detail. Isn't it possible that they were trying to teach you to be focused and pay attention to detail?"
"No, I don't see how."
"Okay, so it would appear that you were rebelling against what they were trying to teach you. Isn't that why you falsely accused your father of beating you?"
"OBJECTION! Sufficient medical evidence proves that she was beaten on several occasions and expert testimony points to the father as the perpetrator."
"Yes, about that. You aren't really a lesbian, are you? Aren't you, in fact, straight, and that's your boyfriend sitting in the back of the courtroom?"
"No, Adam is not my boyfriend. He's engaged to Kelly Anderson."
"Oh, I see. So the two of you had been having a fling and the two of you cooked up this entire scheme to hide the truth from his fiancé. I'm willing to bet that he's the one who beat you when he found out you lied to your parents about your sexuality. Didn't he?" Janita was too shocked to respond. "DIDN'T HE? ANSWER THE QUESTION. DIDN'T YOUR LOVER BEAT YOU FOR LYING TO YOUR PARENTS?"
"OBJECTION! The defense attorney is attacking and browbeating the witness."
"Sustained. Watch yourself Counselor."
No need. That should cast enough doubt in the jury's minds to get an acquittal. "Sorry, Your Honor." Janita was still sitting there, shocked, not saying a word. "Your Honor, please instruct the witness to answer the question."
"The witness will answer the question."
Janita nervously swallowed. Going in, she knew that the questions would be tough, but in no way was she prepared for this. "No, Your Honor. I am most definitely a lesbian and in love with another woman. Adam Matthews-Williams and Kelly Anderson are two of my closest friends. They're like a brother and a sister to me. There's no way I would to anything to come between the two of them."
"No further questions, Your Honor."
"The witness is excused. Mr. Toronas, do you have any more witnesses?"
"No, Your Honor. The State rests."
"Very well. Ms. Martin, please call your first witness."
"I call Franklin Conklin to the stand."
I'm watching you, Conklin. You so much as put a little toe over the line and your ass is mine! The judge mentally admonished him.
After he was sworn in, the defense attorney began her questioning. I hope this works. "Mr. Conklin, your daughter has accused you of abusing her. How do you feel about that?"
"That little…" The judge cleared her throat and raised her gavel "girl sitting there was never supposed to be. My wife and I had a wonderful life before she came along. She was an unwanted accident. She ruined everything for me."
"Why didn't you give her up for adoption?"
"My wife stood to inherit a considerable sum of money when her parents died. They knew we didn't want any children, but threatened to disinherit her if we got rid of the child, so we were stuck with her."
"So, you raised her against your will?"
"Yes. We were trapped and had no choice. Half-a-billion dollars was on the line."
Those greedy mother-fuckers. Janita was nothing more than a cash cow to them. HOW DARE THEY? Adam fumed.
The judge gave no indication of the shock and indignation she felt.
"Okay. Let's talk about when she came out of the closet. How did you react to that?"
"We discussed it with her at length, but she refused to turn away from her abominable lifestyle."
"Why do you claim her sexuality is abominable?"
"Because the Bible denounces faggots as abominations."
"I see. So, when she refused to turn away from her homosexuality, what did you do?"
"We tried to get her help."
"What kind of help?"
"We put her in a sexual reorientation program, but that failed."
"So, what happened then?"
"I was forced to take matters in my own hands. It became apparent to my wife and me that only physical actions would exorcize the demons within her."
Hearing that, Kyle rushed out of the courtroom to the nearest bathroom and vomited. "Baby, are you okay?" Jay asked, coming after him and holding the pale man as he continued to empty his stomach.
When Kyle finished vomiting Jay handed him a couple of mints to take the taste out of his mouth. He was sobbing on Jay's shoulder. "How can anyone do that to their own flesh and blood?" They all knew that he had beaten her, but to hear it stated so blatantly was more than he could deal with.
"I don't know, baby. There are a lot of sick fucks out there. Are you okay?" He nodded. "Let's go back."
"I'm sorry, Jay."
"Don't be. I almost lost my breakfast myself. We better get back in there. I suspect that Adam's about ready to explode by now, if he hasn't already. We may end up having to bail him out of jail before this trial is over."
"If things keep going like the way they are, you may end up having to post bail for both of us." Hand-in-hand, they returned to the courtroom.
"Judge, could you please ask them not to do that? It makes me want to vomit."
"Ask who not to do what?"
"Them. Those disgusting faggots are holding hands. It's enough to make a real man sick to his stomach."
Kyle lost it then. "OUR HOLDING HANDS IS NO WHERE'S NEAR AS DISGUSTING AS YOU RAPING YOUR OWN DAUGHTER, THE MERE THOUGHT OF WHICH MADE ME VOMIT LITERALLY, YOU SICK BASTARD!" Kyle shouted.
The judge pounded her gavel on its pad furiously, when in reality she wanted to pound it on Conklin's head. "ORDER IN THE COURT! ORDER OR I WILL CLEAR THIS COURTROOM!"
"I apologize, Your Honor." Kyle quickly capitulated.
"Mr. Conklin, you will keep your opinions to yourself. Jayson and Kyle Matthews-Williams are legally married and have just as much right to hold hands in public as you and your wife do."
"What those child-molesting faggots call marriage is a mockery. It destroys the sanctity and purity of real marriages, which God had decreed to only be between a man and a woman."
The judge pounded her gavel. She turned to the prosecutor. "I am hereby amending the charges against Mr. Conklin, adding slander to the list of charges." She turned to Conklin. "If the Matthews-Williams family were child molesters Janita would never have been placed with them."
"It only proves that they were successful in hiding their depravity. It's a well-known fact that all faggots are child molesters. How do you think they become faggots in the first place?"
The judge pounded her gavel again. "Mr. Conklin, I find you in contempt of court. You are hereby fined five thousand dollars and six months in prison. If you do not wish to compound these punishments, I strongly urge you to keep your mouth shut and only answer questions put to you." I'm soooooo glad CPS was able to get Janita away from this horrible person! Similar thoughts were running through Jay, Kyle and Adam's minds. Nobody had any idea just how evil Janita's progenitor was.
"Whatever, Judge. You're the boss."
The judge clenched her teeth momentarily before instructing the defense attorney to continue.
"So, Mr. Conklin, you stated that you and your wife realized that only the physical actions of her father could turn Janita from her evil ways. Did it?"
"So, what did you do then?"
"We did the only thing we could do. We threw her out and legally disowned her."
"Thank you. No further questions."
"Mr. Conklin, just out of curiosity, why did you go to the shelter and try to bring Janita back home with you?" The prosecutor asked.
"My wife's parents found out that we kicked her out and threatened to disinherit her."
"You do realize that, having legally disowned her that you could no longer force her to live with you?"
"Yes, but she didn't know that."
"So, you attempted to force the girl that you disowned to move back into your house just so your wife could inherit the money?"
"Of course. Getting the inheritance is all she's good for."
"I see. So, let's talk about your reorientation plan. You stated that you and your wife realized that only your physical actions could turn her back to heterosexuality?"
"In what form did said actions take?"
"I don't understand."
"What did you do to her that you felt would change her?"
"What any father in my situation would do. I tied her down to her bed many times and attempted to beat the demons out of her."
"And she willingly submitted to this course of action?" Silence. "Mr. Conklin?" More silence. "Your Honor, please instruct the witness to answer the question."
"Mr. Conklin, answer the question."
"I invoke my fifth amendment rights."
"Your Honor, permission to treat the witness as a hostile witness."
"Granted." The judge almost shouted.
"Mr. Conklin, you say you tied up and beat your daughter to make her heterosexual. Well, guess what? It didn't work. YOU PUT THAT CHILD THROUGH HELL FOR NO REASON. NO REASON AT ALL. YOU CLAIM YOU LOVE YOUR DAUGHTER. A LOVING FATHER DOES NOT TIE HIS DAUGHTER TO A BED AND BEAT HER REPEATEDLY!" He glared at Conklin. "No further questions, Your Honor."
Even the defense attorney was horrified. "The state rests, Your Honor."
The judge responded in an icy tone that gave chills to everyone in the courtroom. "The witness is excused. We will recess for one-half hour, then we will hear closing arguments." She banged her gavel. "This court is in recess." She returned to her chambers, sat on a couch and cried. Never in all her years on the bench had she heard such wanton disregard for other human beings.
Her secretary, who always seemed to know when she was upset, knocked on the door. "Marilyn, can I get you anything?"
"Yes, I could use about a dozen White Russians."
The secretary closed the door behind her and sat on the couch facing the judge. "That bad?"
"Gina, I swear I've never seen such an evil man in my life. I thank God that CPS got the child out of there and placed with a very caring and loving family."
"I'll be right back." She left and came back about a minute later with a steaming cup of herbal tea. "Here, drink this. It always makes you feel better."
"Thank you, Gina. You always know what do to or say. Well, I guess I have to go back in and listen to closing arguments. It's going to be interesting to hear what the defense has to say as the defendant practically made the prosecution's case for them." She returned to the bench and called the court into session. "Mr. Toronas, are you ready to make your closing arguments?"
"Yes, Your Honor."
"You may proceed."
He stood and walked over to the jury box. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, what can I say? The defendants stand accused of committing heinous acts. How can any parent possibly treat their child the way the defendants are accused of? You have heard corroborating evidence to support all of the charges against them. You have witnessed firsthand the bigotry that is harbored within one of the defendants, and is inferred in the other defendant. I am absolutely convinced of the defendants' guilt as I am sure you are. I ask you for justice for that traumatized child sitting right there. I beg you to find the defendants guilty of all charges. Thank you."
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my esteemed colleague posed the question 'how can any parent treat their child the way the defendants are accused of'. I submit that the answer is quite simple. They didn't. The prosecution has failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove my client's guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt. I am confident that, when all is said and done, you will return the only verdict you can, not guilty. Thank you."
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, please return to the jury room for deliberation." The judge instructed. The jury foreman stood up and glanced at the other eleven jurors then they proceeded out of the courtroom for their deliberations. Once the jury left, the judge came down from the bench and approached the Matthews-Williams family. She knelt down and took Janita's hands. "I'm so very sorry for what you were put through. Nobody deserves to be treated the way you were treated, and I'm very thankful that you've been placed with such an obviously loving and caring family." She gave Janita a quick hug then looked towards Kyle, Jay and Adam and smiled. She understood Adam's desire to rip the Conklins into a million pieces. "If you ever need anything, please don't hesitate to hesitate to contact me." She left the family and approached the social worker. "Please make sure that Janita gets into counseling for her rape and abuse. No child should have to endure what she did."
"We got lucky with this one, Judge. It could have been a whole lot worse. We could have found her dead." That was a scenario that played out far too often.
The judge visibly shuddered. "We definitely owe you a debt of gratitude for this one." She glanced at the Matthews-Williams family, still huddled around Janita in the back of the courtroom. "I don't think you could have found a more loving, caring family to place her with."
"You have no idea, Your Honor." She proceeded to tell the judge everything that the family had done for Janita.
"Wow. You're right. I had no idea. That's incredible. They should get like a family-of-the-year or a parents-of-the-year award."
"Even though they're two gay men?" Ms. Adkins baited the judge.
"Heterosexuality is not a prerequisite for forming a loving, caring, nurturing family. Case in point." She pointed to the now empty defense table.
"I wish the entire judicial system shared your views. It would make my and all other CPS social workers' jobs that much easier."
"I know. Look at them." She pointed to the Matthews-Williams family. "You can almost feel the love radiating out from them." At that moment the bailiff tapped the judge on the shoulder and whispered in her ear. "Already? That was quick." She returned to the bench and pounded her gavel. "Everyone take your seats, please, this court is now in session." This drew surprised looks from everyone as they quickly returned to the previous seats. "Bailiff, please bring in the defendants." The Conklins were ushered back into the courtroom. Once they were seated at the defense table, the judge asked the bailiff to bring in the jury. "Will the defendants please rise?" The judge was not surprised when Mr. Conklin remained seated, although Mrs. Conklin stood. She glared at him, then at the Defense attorney who said something to him. He slowly stood up and sent the judge the nastiest look he could muster, like she was some disgusting insect about to be squashed. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, have you reached a verdict."
"We have, Your Honor, and it was a unanimous decision. We find the defendant, Franklin Conklin guilty of all charges and specifications against him. We further find the defendant, Josephine Conklin, also guilty of all charges and specifications against her."
"Very well. You are dismissed with my deepest appreciation." She turned to the Conklins. "Franklin Conklin, having been found guilty by a jury of your peers, I take great pleasure in levying the maximum punishment allowed by law. I hereby sentence you to life in the state penitentiary with no possibility of parole." There was great malice in her smile. "I'm sure there you will discover the joys of being raped repeatedly, a joy you inflicted on your daughter." She turned to Mrs. Conklin. "I cannot understand how any mother could subject her child to what you did. Josephine Conklin, I hereby sentence you to life in the state women's penitentiary. You may be eligible for parole after serving no less than twenty-five years. This court is adjourned." She pounded her gavel, rose and left the courtroom.
There was cause for celebration in the Matthews-Williams house. They had gotten justice for Janita, and Ms. Adkins was going to get her the help she needed.