Lots of Testimony, Little Evidence in Barber Sexual Assault Trial
Judge Richard S. Bernhardt said he was "confident" that the jury will begin its deliberation Wednesday.
A piece of physical evidence that may have bolstered a teenage boy’s claim that a 54-year-old barber sexually assaulted him was not gathered by the police during its investigation.
“I just didn’t think of it,” Det. Kimberly Bennett testified Tuesday in Howard County Circuit Court.
Bennett testified during the second day of the state’s trial against Jung Gon Kim of Boyd, MD. Kim, the owner and only employee of Sound of Scissors Salon in Ellicott City was arrested in November on sexual assault charges.
Prosecutors contend that in mid-October, the barber allegedly sexually assaulted a then 13-year-old Ellicott City client in a storage room in the salon, propping the boy up against a coffee table.
During the investigation, crime scene technician Lynne Olsen said she was directed to take fingerprints from bookshelves in the storage room, but not from the coffee table.
When prosecutor Jennifer Ritter asked Bennett if, based on the information she had at the time, she should have asked Olsen to look for prints on the coffee table, Bennett replied, “Yes, I should have. It was my mistake. I just didn’t think of it.”
Tuesday’s trial also saw the return to the stand of the now-14-year-old accuser. During cross examination, defense lawyer Samuel Delgado presented a series of calendars which he used to chart the story that the boy had given in his statements to police and during his Monday testimony.
At the end of cross-examination, notations on the calendars resembled a football play diagram, with dates circled in red and arrows pointing to Delgado’s notations. The final date was Sept. 26, 2011, the date that the boy told a school counselor that he had been assaulted "about two weeks ago."
The boy’s testimony was mostly a series of “Yeses" and “Nos” in response to Delgado’s questions, but he said several times that he couldn’t remember exact dates and at one point responded to a question about the number of inappropriate hugs he said Kim gave him with: “I don’t remember how many times he did it. I wasn’t counting.”
Toward the end of the exchange, Delgado referenced the inconsistencies, saying, “You’re having a lot of trouble remembering things?” The boy replied simply “Yes.”
“The reason you’re having trouble remembering is because it didn’t happen,” Delgado went on.
“It did happen,” the boy replied, speaking clearly and looking straight ahead.
During redirect, Ritter asked the boy, “Are the dates what’s important about what happened?” and if the times that he said Kim said inappropriate things or acted in ways that made him uncomfortable, “Did you go home and write that down anywhere?”
To each question, the teen answered “No.”
The teen said that a few days after he was assaulted, he returned to the salon with a friend, a 13-year-old neighbor of his. That neighbor took the stand Tuesday. He said the alleged victim seemed nervous at the salon. “He was hesitating,” the friend testified. He said that throughout the experience, “nothing inappropriate happened” and he left the salon a few minutes before his friend.
Det. Bennett called the alleged victim “very well-groomed, polite, well spoken; a nice kid.” And Kim, she said, was fully cooperative when seven police officers and one crime scene technician showed up at his shop to serve a warrant.
A statement read into the record on behalf of Dr. Wendy Lane, a consultant with the Childcare Advocacy Center of Howard County said that an exam of the boy did not reveal any signs of trauma, though that did not mean he had not been assaulted.
With no physical evidence and two days of difficult, sometimes conflicting testimony, the jury is expected to begin its deliberation Wednesday.
Kim, who sat poised and still through most of the six-hour day, said through an interpreter that he will not be addressing the jury.