Defense: Ashland man accused of rape, torture is victim of woman's revenge
By CHRIS COTELESSE
An attorney representing a man accused of raping and torturing a mentally challenged woman tried to paint his client as a victim of the woman’s revenge.
Jessica L. Hunt, 31, and Jordie L. Callahan, 26, are on trial in federal court charged with labor-trafficking conspiracy and theft of government funds for the purported imprisonment, physical abuse and rape of a woman referred to in court papers as “S.E.”
S.E. lived with Hunt and Callahan in their Ashland home from May 2010 until Oct. 25, 2012, when she was arrested for shoplifting.
S.E. also was charged with child endangerment, and her 5-year-old daughter was placed in foster care after Callahan showed police a video he had recorded of S.E. striking her child.
During cross-examination Wednesday, Callahan’s attorney, Donald Butler, suggested that S.E. was motivated by revenge.
“You wanted to get back at [Hunt and Callahan]?” Butler asked.
“Yes,” S.E. responded.
“Isn’t it true that if Jordie Callahan had not shown the police that video we wouldn’t be here today?” Butler asked.
“Yes,” S.E. responded.
Butler asked her if the prosecutors had promised S.E. to do everything in their power to help her get her daughter out of foster care.
“Yes,” she said.
S.E. has not been with her daughter since her shoplifting arrest in October 2012.
Butler referenced police reports that showed she had not accused Callahan of rape until she was in jail for more than a month.
“He [the officer] asked you if there was anything going on between you and [Callahan]. … He asked you if you had sex with him, and you said ‘No,’” Butler said.
“I did not have sex, but he forced me,” S.E. said.
Carolyn Kucharski, Hunt’s attorney, said that S.E. had multiple opportunities to tell police and caseworkers about the alleged abuse. S.E. once had a private meeting with a Catholic Charities counselor.
“You felt comfortable with this counselor. You felt you could talk to her,” Kucharski said.
S.E. said she did feel comfortable with the counselor, but Chelsea Rice, an assistant U.S. attorney, introduced a confidentiality form S.E. signed for the visit at Catholic Charities. The form showed S.E. allowed the counselor to share with Hunt any information she gave during the visit.
Rice also asked if S.E. was confused by Kucharski’s and Butler’s questions.
“Did you feel like you didn’t have enough time to explain your answers?” Rice asked. “Does having sex mean something different than being forced?”
S.E. said yes.
S.E. had spent part of Monday and all of Tuesday testifying under direct examination by federal prosecutors.
She said she and her daughter were held captive in the Ashland home and were forced to live in squalor. At times, she said, she was even put into a cage and forced to wear a dog collar.
The trial, which begins its eighth day today, is being heard by Judge Benita Y. Pearson in the Thomas D. Lambros U.S. Federal Building and Courthouse.
Federal prosecutors have accused the couple of imprisoning S.E. and her daughter for more than two years while they spent the woman’s Social Security income and other government assistance.
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