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Mallery sex abuse trial: Witnesses say defendant truthful, appropriate with children

The child sex-abuse trial of Pacific University administrator Michael Mallery continued for a fifth day in the Hillsboro courtroom of Judge Thomas W. Kohl Thursday with the defense calling a number of character witnesses to the stand — from fraternity brothers to business associates to relatives.

Mallery is charged with seven counts of first-degree sex abuse involving two underage female family members who are now aged 11 and 15. Both girls were on the stand earlier this week, and on Wednesday Mallery testified in his own defense.

Most of the witnesses Thursday described Mallery, vice-president of finance and administration at the Forest Grove university, as a great guy who is truthful and maintains appropriate sexual boundaries around children.

Harold Roark, director of facilities and safety management at Pacific, called Mallery’s level of truthfulness “sterling.” All the witnesses brought by defense attorney Richard Cohen, of Cohen & Coit law firm in Clackamas, testified they had never seen Mallery consume alcohol excessively, despite what at least one witness for the prosecution charged a day before.

In contrast, each witness who knew both Mallery and Sarah Haggerty — mother of the two family members he is accused of molesting in separate incidents in 2010 and 2013 — said she was “not truthful.”

Senior Deputy District Attorney Kevin Barton raised the issue of whether Mallery had ever been naked in a hot tub with the alleged victims. On re-direct from Cohen, Mallery’s sister-in-law, Robyn Mallery of Tillamook, answered yes to the question, “Have you ever been there when Sarah, Mike Mallery and the children were in the hot tub?”

Cohen wanted to know whether the hot tub’s occupants were wearing bathing suits.

“No,” said Robyn Mallery, adding that it had been four or five years since she witnessed the nude hot-tubbing.

Mallery's friend Traci Deam testified that not only is her husband Mallery’s best friend, but she had also supervised visits between Mallery and the two relatives in 2013. She said that during those visits, some of which were overnight stays, the children had never held back from physical affection or been reluctant to be close to Mallery.

Detective Ryan Engweiler of the Portland Police Bureau returned to the stand and confirmed the older girl had told him in 2010 that Mallery had touched her breast and held his hand there for 30 minutes.

Gina Dubois of the Department of Human Services in Hillsboro agreed with the 30-minute time frame Engweiler cited. Asked what she thought of Mallery’s posture and affect, she said, “I thought he was arrogant.” Dubois explained that Mallery had a “snarky look” and that she found it odd he grabbed a note pad and demanded a card during his interactions with her.

Cohen asked Dubois whether she had any special knowledge of the effect of loyalty conflicts on children. “I have an understanding, but I don’t have a lot of training in it,” she said.

Asked to detail the older alleged victim’s report to her, Dubois testified the girl had said Mallery had placed his left hand inside her bra and told her “it was okay.”

“She said she had been on the couch and was leaning in toward [Mallery]. She was wearing a tank top and bra with shorts. [Mallery] acted slowly … placing his hand on her bare breast.”

Cohen said the defense believes investigating agencies and Haggerty acted with bias in efforts to keep Mallery from having access to the children. Dubois said the children told her “they were scared of [Mallery] and didn’t want to be alone with him.” She insisted she was not siding with anyone but the children.

Judith Swinney, a parent educator for Multnomah and Clackamas counties, testified about her professional involvement with the family as a visitation supervisor. Swinney said the children were “always happy” to see Mallery and described the younger alleged victim’s first supervised visit with him in 2011.

“I observed when she and her brother saw [Mallery] she ran to him and jumped up into his arms.” She described the child, her brother and Mallery sharing tears and hugs.

Cohen asked Swinney whether the older girl typically maintained physical distance between herself and Mallery during visits. “No — in fact, she sat right next to him on the couch [and on] the bench in the bowling alley,” Swinney replied.

Swinney noted that she observed Mallery playing baseball, bowling, shopping and having dinner with the children, and at no time felt the children were fearful of him.

The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Friday morning in Washington County Circuit Court, when the defense is expected to wrap up its case.



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