Testimony continues in sex abuse trial
by Rachel Davis
Feb 20, 2014 | 2339 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michael Odell Logan
Michael Odell Logan
The second day of the trial of Michael Odell Logan, 34, of Dora, saw the prosecution present two expert witnesses and finish the questioning of the police officer who led the investigation.

Logan is on trial for allegedly sexually assaulting a child under the age of 12. Specifically, he is being tried for two counts of first-degree rape, two counts of first-degree sodomy, one count of sex abuse of an individual under the age of 12 and one count of enticing a child for immoral purposes.

The first witness of the day was Mary Beth Thomas, clinical director for the Prescott House, a child advocacy center in Birmingham.

Thomas described the role of a child advocacy as “gathering information,” via a forensic interview designed to protect the integrity of the information by not influencing or leading the child. These interviews are used for children who have been the victims of abuse, sexual abuse or who have witnessed a traumatic or violent crime.

The forensic interview in this case was conducted at the Prescott House in late February 2012.

Walker County Circuit Judge Hoyt Elliott closed the courtroom to all potential future witnesses and the general public while the video of the interview was played, because of the age of the victim and the nature of the charges.

The interview shows the victim at the Prescott House, drawing and talking to Thomas about her life in general and the abuse she alleged Logan committed, including allegations that he forced her to perform oral sex as well as penetrating her vaginally and anally.

Thomas said her role was not to interpret the allegations as truthful or not, but described the victim’s demeanor during the interview as uncomfortable and described the victim crying and hiding her face, as well as saying that she was more comfortable writing some things, rather than saying them out loud.

The drawings and writings created by the victim were also presented in court. One of those drawings includes the phrase “Can you help me” under it. On the video, the victim can be seen writing that phrase. When Thomas asked what she needs help with, she points to the name “Michael” written on another piece of paper.

Belinda Weldon, attorney for defense, asked Thomas about false allegations and how to determine whether allegations made were truthful or not. Thomas reiterated that she was just looking for information, not interpreting it. Weldon also questioned whether it was unusual that the victim had given more detailed accounts in court than she did in the initial interview.

Thomas said that children often reveal only small amounts of information initially and, as time passes and they are safe, they reveal more and more details.

After finishing the questioning of Thomas, the court was reopened to the public and returned to the cross examination of Dora Police Chief John Duchock.

On Tuesday, Duchock testified that he took the initial report of abuse and then referred the case to the Prescott House to have the forensic interview conducted by Thomas.

Weldon questioned why Duchock did not collect any DNA or physical evidence from the Logan home. Duchock said he searched areas, such as the pool table in the basement where several incidents of the abuse allegedly occurred but did not see any signs of semen or other fluids. He added that his search occurred more than a month after the last incident allegedly occurred.

The final witness for the day was Chris Jolliffe, who is a registered nurse at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham and the coordinator of the sexual assault nurse examiners program at the hospital. Jolliffe discussed the human body and the fact that after more than a week, there is often no sign of sex, consensual or otherwise, on the body because of the fast healing rate of mucosal tissues.

She said her exam of the victim occurred in March 2012 and the exam showed no sign of sexual assault, but said that was normal because the last alleged incident occurred in January.

Weldon questioned Jolliffe about urinary tract infections, constipation and laxatives given to children but did not give any context for the questions.

The prosecution will continue presenting its case against Logan this morning.