Defense attorney points to inconsistencies in witness testimony in Mallo case
REED CITY — On Wednesday, the alleged victim of Francis Brent Mallo took the stand to once again tell her story of abuse, but Mallo's attorney sought to prove that story has changed throughout the years.
Mallo is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Osceola County's 49th Circuit Court. A girl sent to stay with the Mallo family claims Mallo inappropriately touched her when she was in the care of the family at a home they ran for girls. According to court documents, the incidents occurred between April 2009 and February 2010.
Osceola County Prosecutor Tyler Thompson told the jury in his opening statement Mallo violated the innocence of the young girl. However, Mallo's defense attorney Lisa Kirsch Satawa opened by stating the girl has a history of lying, making false accusations and changing the truth.
"When you hear her testify you will hear her say 'I don't know' or 'I don't remember,' but if it's the truth there is nothing to remember," Kirsch Satawa said. "The truth doesn't change."
The victim, now 17, took the stand and began testifying about her early life and how she came to live with Mallo and his family. The girl was an orphan in the Ukraine, but came to the United States to live with an adoptive family in Florida when she was 8 or 9 years old. A few years later, Mallo came to pick her up and take her to Michigan.
The girl said she was unaware why she was being sent to Michigan, though later Kirsch Satawa made mention of her adoptive family being scared of her and behavior problems.
When the victim first arrived in Michigan she lived at the Mallos' home before eventually moving to a house down the street the Mallos ran to care for other girls. She testified to two occasions where Mallo came into her bedroom as she was attempting to sleep in the top bunk and began to touch her.
"He touched my private area and started kissing me forcefully," she said. "I tried to push him away. It hurt. I don't know how long it lasted. Then he left."
The girl stated she was scared and ashamed, so she did not tell anyone. During these incidents, there was another girl sleeping in the bunk below her, she testified.
When the victim did come forward with allegations against Mallo, Kirsch Satawa pointed to various times the circumstances had changed.
Kirsch Satawa asked why in 2010, when the victim first told someone about allegations, she did not mention sexual abuse or make any references to the claims Mallo kissed and touched her.
"I do not recall what I told the trooper about the abuse," she said. "I just told him everything that happened in that house."
Kirsch Satawa asked the victim if she remembered telling people Mallo had assaulted her in the shower, to which the girl stated she had. Kirsch Satawa referred to various reports by police where the victim had detailed assaults in the shower, but the victim said she did not specifically remember the interviews.
"But you told the police in 2013 that he rubbed you all over, and touched your private area, and rubbed your stomach, breasts and buttocks while you were in the shower?" Kirsch Satawa said.
"If you have it in writing, then that's what I said," the girl said as she started crying. "I need a break."
However, Kirsch Satawa brought up previous testimony made by the witness, where the girl stated the only assaults happened in the bedroom.
Before all the allegations came out, the Mallos were planning to adopt the girl. As part of the process, she had to be removed from the home for a period of time. When the family came to visit her, but did not take her home with them, she made the allegations against Mallo, Kirsch Satawa said.
"But then you found out they weren't going to be able to adopt you because of that, so you went to a supervisor and told her you lied, right?" the attorney asked.
"Yes," the victim stated.
Kirsch Satawa presented letters written from the victim to the Mallos, where she called them "Mom and Dad" and referenced changing her name once she was adopted. One letter also mentioned the victim admitted she was wrong and was "going to fix it," though it was not explicitly clear what the statement was referencing.
When Thompson had the chance to again question the witness, he asked why she had changed her stories.
She said some of the incidents were too uncomfortable to talk about. He asked if, in fact, she had been assaulted in other rooms of the house while with the Mallos, to which she answered yes and detailed another time in which Mallo "grinded on top of her" in bed. While the victim has testified in multiple proceedings, Kirsch Satawa noted this is the first time this new alleged assault has ever been brought up.
"It's a new memory that I got a this week or last week," the victim said.
In December, Mallo was first tried on three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct which involved another accuser. The woman in the first case claimed Mallo had assaulted her multiple times in the early 1990s when she worked as a babysitter for the Mallo family. That trial ended in a mistrial. Mallo was tried again on the same charges and found not guilty on June 2.
Before testimony Wednesday, Judge Ron Nichols ruled testimony from the first accuser would not be allowed in this trial.
The trial resumes at 9 a.m. today in Osceola County's 49th Circuit Court.
An article in the Tuesday, Sept. 2 edition of the Pioneer stated Mallo is charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in this case. He is facing two charges. The Pioneer apologizes for the error.