Defense cross of Dr. Dinsmore

Michael Travesser / Wayne Bent at sunset

Defense Cross Examination of Dr. Elizabeth Dinsmore

Judge Baca: Ok, Ms. Montoya.

Ms. Montoya: May I approach?

Judge Baca: Yes, ma’am.

Ms. Montoya: Dr. Dinsmore, I’m going to hand you what’s been marked as Defendant’s Exhibit seventy six. It’s a letter to Tomas Benevidez, dated October twenty seventh, two thousand eight. Is that the letter that you reviewed?

Dr. Dinsmore: Yes.

Ms. Montoya: So, that is a portion of what you’re basing your opinion on today?

Dr. Dinsmore: Yes.

Ms. Montoya: In reading that letter, Dr. Dinsmore, quite frankly L.S. was saying she was being abused by the State. Did that concern you at all?

Dr. Dinsmore: Yes, it did.

Ms. Montoya: And, in fact, it’s the District Attorney’s office, who hired you to interview the girls. Correct?

Dr. Dinsmore: Yes.

Ms. Montoya: And they paid your fee?

Dr. Dinsmore: Yes.

Ms. Montoya: And the parent’s came with the first daughter, correct?

Dr. Dinsmore: Correct.

Ms. Montoya: And then when the second daughter came, they sent her with somebody from the District Attorney’s office?

Dr. Dinsmore: Yes.

Ms. Montoya: Did that concern you, that the parent’s weren’t available to... they were available to one daughter, but not to the other?

Dr. Dinsmore: I felt that a seven hour drive, twice in several days, was not necessary.

Ms. Montoya: Would that, in the girl’s minds, though, make one of them feel favored over the other, or maybe one of them feels less favored?

Dr. Dinsmore: I don’t believe that A.S. felt less favored.

Ms. Montoya: But, in fact, she feels less favored in general does she not?

Dr. Dinsmore: She was comparing herself to the other girls, not necessarily just to her sister.

Ms. Montoya: Did you ask her to compare herself to her sister?

Dr. Dinsmore: No, I didn’t.

Ms. Montoya: Did you speak to anyone who watched the girls grow up other than the parents? The people who were present when they were living on the land, apart from their parents? Did you speak to any of those people about the family dynamic?

Dr. Dinsmore: No, I didn’t.

Ms. Montoya: And then, you said, "They seemed to be possibly," "seemed," and "possibly, groomed." So, we don’t know for a fact that these girls were actually groomed for anything do we?

Dr. Dinsmore: No, we don’t.

Judge Baca: Let me ask you, what does grooming mean?

Dr. Dinsmore: Grooming means developing a relationship with a child that you have targeted for victimization, sexual victimization. Winning their trust through various kinds of things, special gifts or privileges, time together, to win over, to overcome the child’s normal kind of reticence to become involved with a stranger. And to develop that relationship so that, by the time the child realizes that there is sexuality involved, they feel already implicated.

Ms. Montoya: But that’s usually used, again, with strangers. The girls grew up around Wayne Bent. He was not a stranger to them, was he?

Dr. Dinsmore: Most sexual abuse is by people who are known to the victims, so grooming does not only happen by strangers.

Ms. Montoya: But, again, we have no evidence that he was actually grooming them, correct?

Dr. Dinsmore: No. I just said that that was one of my impressions or suspicions.

Ms. Montoya: And you said... you called her, L.S.. I call her, Healed. You said, Healed "seems to idolize Mr. Bent." Didn’t you hear her testimony today, where she said to her there is a difference between Wayne Bent and Michael?

Dr. Dinsmore: Yes, I did.

Ms. Montoya: And there’s no difference to you between the spiritual and the actual human person?

Dr. Dinsmore: I chose to use Mr. Bent’s name in my report and I don’t know whether Michael exists in spirit.

Ms. Montoya: And then you said that they were confused by messages of being saved or going to hell. Isn’t that the typical message of most churches? That you have a choice of being saved or going to hell?

Dr. Dinsmore: I don’t think most people in churches feel that almost every act they do might have that consequence. These girls seem to feel that almost every act or thought that they have could lead to damnation or salvation.

Ms. Montoya: And you talked about one of your tests being geared for adolescence and then you talked about, I think you said the Wechsler Test, was the adult Wechsler Test, is that correct?

Dr. Dinsmore: Yes.

Ms. Montoya: Why was she given the adult test?

Dr. Dinsmore: Because it’s given to people sixteen years and older. It’s just the way the test is constructed.

Ms. Montoya: And which test did you give first?

Dr. Dinsmore: I gave the Bender first.

Ms. Montoya: So, you were aware of her cognitive functioning being in the low to average range before you gave her the adult test?

Dr. Dinsmore: No, you’re misunderstanding.

Ms. Montoya: Ok, explain.

Dr. Dinsmore: A child her age would only have taken the adult intelligence test. It’s the way the test is constructed, for that age range.

Ms. Montoya: And we found from the results of your test that her cognitive functioning is in the low average range?

Dr. Dinsmore: Yes.

Ms. Montoya: Now, would you please explain to the jury what her cognitive functioning is. What is cognitive functioning?

Dr. Dinsmore: It’s a variety of kinds, all of the skills that allow us to think, to reason, to remember things minute to minute, and also long term. The test actually is constructed with thirteen, something like thirteen, subtests that measure various kinds of skills and then they are statistically scored and come up with a score. So some of the skills are in the verbal range and some of them are visual, motor kinds of skills. And altogether they're considered to measure certain aspects of human intellectual functioning.

Ms. Montoya: And she did not come out in the range of someone who would be, for instance, mentally retarded, correct?

Dr. Dinsmore: No.

Ms. Montoya: What would the score for someone? What’s the highest score to have and still be in the range of being mentally retarded?

Dr. Dinsmore: Anything under seventy would be in the beginning to be in the mentally retarded range.

Ms. Montoya: And what was her score?

Dr. Dinsmore: Her scores were in the low average range which was eighty to eighty-nine on those.

Ms. Montoya: So, is she smart enough then to be able to know the difference between the truth and a lie?

Dr. Dinsmore: She has the intellectual capacity, yes.

Ms. Montoya: Thank you. And you did say one of the girls being angry and one feeling loved, maybe just different temperament at babies, correct?

Dr. Dinsmore: I said, that may be one thing that contributes to differences in siblings.

Ms. Montoya: Also this idea that she felt unloved, that’s her own perception. She’s viewing the world through her own eyes, correct?

Dr. Dinsmore: Did I say that she felt unloved?

Ms. Montoya: Yes.

Dr. Dinsmore: Where do I say that?

Ms. Montoya: Well, you said she felt like she didn’t get as much attention, one feeling angry and one feeling loved. So you were describing the differences between the girls, so she felt angry and you described that her temperament may be different because babies have different temperaments.

Dr. Dinsmore: She did say she felt that her upbringing with her parents was good and I have no doubt that she feels loved by her parents. It’s a different matter of comparing herself to other virgins, other women and girls who were being considered for that role, and feeling that some others got more attention than she did from Mr. Bent.

Ms. Montoya: And yet she was one of the chosen, correct?

Dr. Dinsmore: Yes.

Ms. Montoya: And that was because she had the voice of God in her telling her that she was chosen, correct?

Dr. Dinsmore: She told me she decided she felt pressured to do it, in a kind of a peer pressure.

Ms. Montoya: Because she didn’t want to go to hell?

Dr. Dinsmore: I think yes, partly because she feared the consequences.

Ms. Montoya: And you talked about her becoming suicidal. Does depression and suicidal tendencies come sometimes from genetics?

Dr. Dinsmore: There are severe depressions that do seem to run in families.

Ms. Montoya: Were you aware that her mother and grandmother were both suicidal at some point in time?

Dr. Dinsmore: No, I wasn’t aware of that.

Ms. Montoya: So you weren’t given that information. And were you aware that when Mr. Bent became aware of her suicidal tendencies that he informed the parents and asked them to take care of her? Were you aware of that? That he called them in and informed them?

Dr. Dinsmore: I was aware that he told her she would have to go back to her parents to get that taken care of, because he wasn’t able to take care of it.

Ms. Montoya: And again you’ve testified that you believe they didn’t see doctors. So wouldn’t it make more sense that she would go and live off the land with her parents so they could address that issue?

Tomas Benevidez: Objection, your Honor.

Judge Baca: What is the objection?

Tomas Benevidez: The Defense Attorney is testifying instead of the witness. She’s asking leading questions that suggest the answer. She’s testifying on behalf of her …

Judge Baca: Well, it is a form of a leading question and leading questions are permitted on cross examination. You may continue.

Ms. Montoya: So,you were told by whom that Wayne Bent rejected her?

Dr. Dinsmore: By A.S..

Ms. Montoya: So, that was her perception, correct?

Dr. Dinsmore: Yes.

Ms. Montoya: Do you know if she was told that Wayne called her parents in to consult with regard to that matter?

Dr. Dinsmore: Do I know?

Ms. Montoya: Do you know if she was told by her parents that they were called in to consult about that matter?

Dr. Dinsmore: I don’t remember.

Ms. Montoya: And you talked about the upbringing with her parents or with the children’s parents. Were you aware that the children’s parents were absent for extended periods of time in these children’s lives?

Dr. Dinsmore: Uhm... I don’t know what you mean by extended periods of time. I was not aware of times before, say before two thousand five or two thousand six, when the family was not together.

Ms. Montoya: And you talked about the, you told a story about Wayne Bent going for a walk and other people walking with him and him praising them, correct?

Dr. Dinsmore: Yes.

Ms. Montoya: Were you aware that he might have gone for a walk to talk to or commune with God and maybe wanted to do that by himself upon occasion? Were you told about that?

Dr. Dinsmore: My concern was that in his inconsistent responses and his punitive responses.

Ms. Montoya: But, we all need a little quiet time, do we not?

Dr. Dinsmore: That’s not the issue I’m bringing up here, whether people need quiet time.

Ms. Montoya: Isn’t it typical for people within the same religious groups to agree on the way life should be lived?

Dr. Dinsmore: Yes, I assume it is.

Ms. Montoya: And you kept referring to the isolation from the outside world. Were you told that the internet they got was only posts about religion and the land? Is that what information you were given?

Dr. Dinsmore: Everything I know about this community would suggest that the internet is going to be used in a very narrowed way, that is consistent with their point of view.

Ms. Montoya: So, if I told you that, in fact, they had complete and absolute internet access, would that change your opinion?

Dr. Dinsmore: No. I mean there is evidence that children were told to leave the land, because they were too noisy, small children were making too much noise playing …

Ms. Montoya: What does that have to do with the internet, ma’am?

Judge Baca: Ms. Montoya, I think she’s trying to explain her answer. Give her a chance. You may proceed.

Dr. Dinsmore: Uhm.. and that teen boys were sent off or encouraged to leave the land. All of that does not suggest an openness to the world that’s represented on the internet.

Ms. Montoya: Who told you that teen boys were asked to leave the land?

Dr. Dinsmore: The Sayers.

Ms. Montoya: And you said that you were confused about terms use of the words “Father.” Did the girls clarify that for you today that Father means God in Heaven? Did that clarify anything for you today?

Dr. Dinsmore: I’ve seen it used different ways at different times.

Ms. Montoya: And you’re also confused about the word consummation as well, whether it was with the spirit or a sexual consummation?

Dr. Dinsmore: Yes.

Ms. Montoya: Did the Sayers attempt to explain any of the vernacular that is used on the land to you?

Dr. Dinsmore: I think they did explain that and it seemed to be at the whim of Mr. Bent, what it meant at any particular time.

Ms. Montoya: And when you asked, because you said, one of your last comments in your testimony for the prosecution was, when asked who’s responsible, "It always seems like he’s not responsible." Were you aware that there’s something called the New Government on the land and people make decisions together apart from Mr. Bent? Were you aware of that?

Tomas Benevidez: Your honor, objection, outside the scope of direct.

Judge Baca: What’s your response? Talking at once here

Ms. Montoya: I’m asking her a question, based on the very answer she gave to the State’s question, your Honor.

Judge Baca: I’ll permit it. Objection overruled.

Ms. Montoya: Were you made aware that there is something on the land called the New Government and that there are joint decisions made? Were you ever made aware of any of that?

Dr. Dinsmore: No.

Ms. Montoya: Ok. Thank you.

Judge Baca: Alright. Redirect?

Tomas Benevidez: No, your Honor.

Judge Baca: Alright, may this witness be excused.

Tomas Benevidez: Yes, your Honor. But she may be back for rebuttal.

Judge Baca: She’s subject to recall?

Tomas Benevidez: Yes, your Honor.

Judge Baca: Alright, then, Dr. Dinsmore, thank you for your testimony today. You are excused, for this period of time. You may be subject to recall.

Dr. Dinsmore: Alright. Thank you.

Judge Baca: Thank you.

Tomas Benevidez: Your Honor, we’d ask that she remain in the room too.

Judge Baca: Alright, she may be permitted to remain in the room.

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