This recent article in the Hartford Courant highlights an interesting trial going on. The defendant is accused of sexually assaulting a child who he adopted through the Department of Children and Family Services. Rather than try the case before a jury, the defendant has chosen to allow the judge to decide his guilt or innocence. The article is below. HARTFORD — A trial began Tuesday for one of two men accused of sexually assaulting boys they adopted through the state Department of Children and Families, with his accuser describing physical and sexual abuse he said he endured from both men over several years. The state had sought to try George Harasz, 51, and Douglas Wirth, 46, together, but their defense attorneys objected and convinced Hartford Superior Court Judge Julia D. Dewey to hold separate trials. Both also waived their right to a jury trial and opted to have Dewey hear the evidence against them and render a verdict. Wirth’s trial is first. But before testimony began, Wirth’s lawyer, Michael Dwyer of Middletown, tried to get the judge to admit medical reports that he contends are evidence of the accuser’s propensity to lie and exaggerate. Dwyer argued that the accuser’s competency to tell the truth was at issue. Dewey responded that competence related only to whether the accuser could understand the obligation of his oath to tell the truth. The credibility of his testimony would be a matter for her to determine, after hearing his testimony as well as cross-examination, she said.
Prosecutor Elizabeth Tanaka questioned the accuser about his life with Wirth and Harasz and about when he first made disclosures about abuse he says he suffered. The accuser, who is now 19, said that he was 5 when he and his brothers moved in with Wirth and Harasz, and that he was in elementary school when he made his first disclosure.The person he told about the abuse called Harasz, and when Harasz got home, “George hit me once or twice and asked me why I’d made up a lie to the school,” the accuser testified.The accuser said that he made another disclosure of abuse when he was in sixth grade and that the DCF investigated, but did nothing. He ended up getting grounded by Wirth and Harasz, he said.The boy said that Harasz was responsible for most of the abuse, but that Wirth joined in, too. The abuse occurred in the shower and in the bedroom the men shared, he testified.Since the case began, the accuser has made additional allegations about abuse, and he testified that he is stronger and better able to talk about what he endured.Investigators examining the allegations were not able to substantiate some of the allegations.The charges against Wirth include first-degree sexual assault, four counts of third-degree sexual assault, risk of injury to a minor and two counts of illicit sexual contact with a minor. The state is proceeding against Wirth only based on the accusations by the 19-year-old.Dwyer sought to highlight for the judge how the boy’s allegations have evolved over time. The accuser initially told authorities that he was sexually assaulted two or three times, but now contends it he was assaulted in excess of six times.On his 15th birthday, on March 20, 20100, the accuser testified, both men sexually assaulted him. The accuser said he was taking a shower and that Harasz got in with him, rubbed soap onto him and touched his genitals. The accuser testified that he then had to do the same to Harasz. Such contact was common, he said.Later that day, the accuser testified, he was face down on a bed and Harasz sexually assaulted him. Wirth went next, he said.The abuse the accuser described Tuesday differed from what he told investigators in August 2011, Dwyer pointed out during cross-examination.Much of Dwyer’s cross-examination, which is expected to continue Wednesday, focused on inconsistencies in the accuser’s stories and testimony, as well as lies he has told.His story about one incident changed from Monday, when he talked to prosecutors about the incident, to Tuesday, when he testified about it.Also during a meeting with prosecutors, the accuser told them he was attending Southern Connecticut State University and playing football for the school. Under questioning by Dwyer, the accuser admitted he lied about college and playing football.Dwyer also asked the accuser about comments he’d made about his biological mother and father. He admitted telling people his mother was dead and that his father was on death row for raping women, then admitting that those were lies.”Have you ever had treatment for telling stories,” Dwyer asked the accuser.”I’ve been put places,” he responded. David Owen, Hartford Courant