Update, 2:25 p.m.: The defendant has been found guilty of first-degree child rape, but not first-degree child molestation.
The jury reached a verdict this afternoon following closing arguments this morning from the prosecution and Pedersen.
This story will be updated.
WENATCHEE — An accused child rapist representing himself at trial called two witnesses Thursday: the 13-year-old alleged victim and the detective who investigated the case.
Jeremy Douglas Pedersen is charged in Chelan County Superior Court with first-degree child rape and first-degree child molestation. In 2011 or 2012, he allegedly touched the girl inappropriately and later forced her to perform oral sex when she was about 6 years old.
After the girl sat in the witness box, Pedersen, standing behind a lectern, began the examination of his alleged victim by asking Judge Lesley Allan, “Permission to treat the witness as hostile?”
Permission wasn’t allowed. If it had, Pedersen would’ve been allowed to ask the girl, who testified on the prosecution’s behalf Wednesday, leading questions.
In his examination, Pedersen continued to doubt the accuracy of the girl’s memory — debating the location and questioning whether parts of her description of the oral sex were feasible. Her recollection Thursday of where the incidents allegedly happened was different than her testimony Wednesday and in earlier interviews with detectives.
During cross-examination from Deputy Prosecutor Julia Hartnell, the girl said the alleged abuse from Pedersen isn’t something she wants to remember.
“I try to suppress it and keep it out of my mind,” the girl said.
The girl brought the accusations to authorities in July 2018 after she got into trouble at school. Not directly related to her school troubles, she said she was self-harming and wanted to speak out about Pedersen. She told her grandmother first and then a cousin.
Pedersen, who turns 47 Friday, was arrested in December 2018. He was released from custody in August 2019 after posting $25,000 bond, but then arrested in January 2020 on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine. He’s being held at the Chelan County Regional Justice Center.
In May 2019, Pedersen elected to represent himself at trial. It’s not clear from court records why he chose to forego a public defender, but he was warned by Allan that he'd be held to almost the same standard as an attorney. Attorney Brian Chase sits by his side at trial as stand-by counsel.
Hartnell called five witnesses: the girl’s grandmother, mother and cousin; Jessica Johnson, the executive director of Sage, an agency that helps crime victims who've experienced trauma; and Wenatchee Police detective Steve Evitt again.
The grandmother, mother and cousin testified to what the girl said to them when she first disclosed the alleged abuse.
Pedersen has said at trial he believes the girl is lying, and has pointed to what he believes to be inconsistencies in her memory of the location of the alleged incidents. Johnson said less than 4% of children lie about sexual abuse.
Evitt said victims don’t always remember everything exactly the same in each interview.
“The substance is going to be there, but the details, not uncommonly, are going to be different,” Evitt said.
Pedersen asked the girl about the oral abuse and what the alleged act entailed. She’d testified that she was lying in bed when he entered the room, and in an interview prior to trial said she was sitting in her room.
Pedersen asked her if it was true that she said she was sitting in the room.
“Yes, but I didn’t mean sitting up — I meant just sitting in my room,” the girl said.
Pedersen sighed and returned to his seat. Allan asked if he had more witnesses to call.
“I’d like to do it all over again, but I can’t,” Pedersen said.
He called Evitt back to the witness box, asked a few more questions and then rested his case.
Closing statements are expected to begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday.