Man wants testimony of alleged rape victim excluded


A 43-year-old man who faces charges of raping a 12-year-old girl wants the testimony of the alleged victim excluded.

Joseph Seman Epina, through assistant public defender Cindy Nesbit, described the testimony, memory, prior statements, and any future testimony of the alleged victim as inaccurate.

Epina, through Nesbit, accused the Division of Youth Services and the Department of Public Safety officers of mishandling their questioning of the alleged victim.

In Epina’s motion to exclude testimony, Nesbit said the questioning techniques used by the government were so flawed that they rendered the girl’s out-of-court statements, along with any future testimony she may provide, inaccurate.

“Allowing her to testify at trial would unfairly prejudice Mr. Epina by allowing the jury to hear inaccurate and unreliable information,” Nesbit said.

She said that after reviewing documents in this case, it became clear to her that DYS and DPS officers did not conduct the investigation according to standards and improperly questioned the girl.

Accordingly, the defense sought the appointment of an expert witness in the fields of psychology and forensic interviewing of child witnesses. The court granted this.

Nesbit said they retained Dr. Wendy Bourg, who confirmed the defense’s initial concern that the interview techniques employed in this case is far below professional standards and have irrevocably tainted the accuracy of all prior and any future statements of the girl.

Nesbit said child witnesses are particularly vulnerable to suggestion and implanted memories.

She said the government’s questioning techniques employed in this case are not in compliance with any standardized forensic interviewing protocol and resulted in the girl’s inaccurate reporting.

The trial of Epina will commence on Jan. 23, 2017. Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho is presiding over the case.

Police investigation started after receiving a complaint from a DYS personnel about a student who was sexually assaulted. (Ferdie De La Torre)

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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