Judge rules abortion records admissible in former officer's trial

Defense wants to prove plaintiff did not have an abortion. Prosecutors say the defense is trying 'to dirty up the victim.'

July 27, 2011|By Mona Shadia,

A former Huntington Beach police officer accused of 19 felonies, including rape and sodomy, can subpoena the medical records of one of the alleged victims, an Orange County Superior Court judge has ruled.

James Roberts' alleged mistress told police she had an abortion, but she didn't report the rape and abuse earlier because Roberts threatened to tell her devout Catholic parents, said John Barnett, Roberts' attorney.

The defense shed doubt on the abortion because the date she reported aborting the child doesn't add up.

"We're asking for it to show that she lied to police," Barnett said.

Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney John Christl disagreed, saying it's not relevant whether she had an abortion or not.

Christl, however, said the threats are relevant because Roberts made them not knowing, if in fact, an abortion took place, yet he threatened her anyway.


"It's a smear tactic," Christl said. "The defense is trying to dirty up the victim before the jury."

The medical records are expected to confirm whether the alleged mistress, whose name is being withheld because she is a possible rape victim, had an abortion or whether she lied to mislead police.

"If there are no records and it didn't happen, then the defense is entitled to know that," Barnett said.

At first, Judge William Froeberg said he couldn't think of a time over the span of his career when he allowed abortion records as evidence.

But after hearing Barnett's argument, Froeberg said he would allow the subpoena only to prove whether an abortion occurred.

"It seems to me that there's a large credibility issue," Froeberg said, adding that if she didn't have an abortion, it's something to be considered.

Froeberg plans to review the medical records and inform both the D.A. and the defense of the results, at which point he will decide whether the abortion record or lack thereof is admissible for the trial.

Roberts' alleged mistress has also accused him of rape, sodomy, domestic battery, aggravated assault and vandalism, among other things. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The woman filed a lawsuit against Huntington Beach on her and her young son's behalf accusing the Police Department of covering up for Roberts when she called to report the abuse.

The next court hearing is Sept. 9.

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