Judge: Minor victims can testify in rape, GSI trial


GALION — David Vreeland, 51, charged with one first-degree felony charge of rape and one count of gross sexual imposition, was in Crawford County Common Pleas Court on Monday for a hearing.

Vreeland, being held at the Crawford County Justice Center, appeared with his attorney Andrew Motter. The alleged victims are 10 years old and approximately seven years old. If convicted, Vreeland could face 20 years or more in prison.

Prior to hearing Motter’s motions in the case Judge Sean Leuthold held a competency examination of both the alleged victims. The purpose of the examination was to determine if the girls could testify against Vreeland.

Leuthold held the examination in another court room to assure good audio for the taped examination. Leuthold, Motter, and assistant prosecutor Ryan Hoovler were present as well as the victims and a representative from children’s services. Vreeland remained in the main court room during the examination.

After the interview with the alleged victims, Leuthold went back on record in the main courtroom to render his decision. Leuthold explained the course of the examination. He noted that he was looking for if the children understood the difference between what is truth and what is a falsity. He also wanted to understand if the children could understand their responsibility to be truthful in the proceedings and when testifying.

Leuthold concluded that they were indeed competent to testify in the trial.

After hearing the ruling, Motter said he disagreed with the decision and went on to explain the reason for the other motion that was filed. Motter said he believed the victims were coached on what to say in their initial allegations against Vreeland. He pointed out that there were several statements made on the initial reports to police and Children’s Services that suggested the children had been coached.

When Leuthold asked Motter to provide exhibits of those statements, Motter said he was reluctant to share his strategies.

“Look Mr. Motter, in probably 80 percent of these types of cases, the accusation of coaching is made,” Leuthold said. “If you want me to consider this motion then you have to show me what you have.”

In Motter’s motions, he asked the court to pay for an expert to determine if the children had been coached. Motter noted a portion of the initial interview where the 10-year-old child allegedly said that she “hoped there was enough evidence to get him this time,” referring to Vreeland.

“It is clear in the statements made that the comments made by the victims evolves as the case moves on; which is a big concern for me. I am not a forensic psychologist, but I need an expert to tell me if this is the case,” Motter said.

Motter believes that an expert would agree that the children were coached and that would taint the evidence; resulting in the testimony of the children being eliminated from the proceedings.

Hoovler had an explanation for why the child might say something such as that.

“The victim has been victimized over and over,” Hoovler said. “Her attitude is reasonable. To suggest that a child is coached because they want justice is ridiculous.”

Hoovler went on to say that the 10-year-old made accusations 18 months ago, but there was not enough evidence to bring a case before the grand jury.

“She feels this way because she experienced it herself,” Hoovler said.

After hearing from both attorneys, Leuthold decided on how to proceed.

“In the interest of doing the right and just thing, I need specific details of where in these reports you suggest evidence of coaching,” Leuthold said.

Motter was given seven days to create exhibits pertaining to points in reports and videos that suggest coaching. Leuthold took a copy of the police interview with the victims to watch as well.

“I will make a ruling next Monday on this,” Leuthold said. “I am keeping this case on track for trial.”

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By Kathy Laird

Crawford County Now