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Grueling cross-examination in sex crime case raises doubts

The defense attorney for a former high school geometry teacher at Riverdale Country School who is on trial for having sex with one of his students when she was 16 recently grilled the witness during a contentious cross-examination during the man's trial.

The 33-year-old man is being tried in Manhattan Supreme Court on charges of rape, criminal sex act and other similar counts for his alleged trysts with his student. The girl was a 16-year-old sophomore when the two reportedly had several sexual encounters that began with flirtatious email exchanges.

During cross-examination, the now 19-year-old woman was unable to remember if her alleged lover was circumcised or not.

The heated exchange began with the question, "Is he circumcised?" When she claimed not to remember, his defense counsel expressed incredulity that after multiple sexual encounters that included the student performing oral sex on the defendant and the two showering together she couldn't recall his circumcision status.

During earlier direct testimony, the woman stated that the affair with her teacher ended after both were caught having sex in his apartment by his fiancée. She has already admitted to lying under oath during her initial grand jury testimony, allegedly to spare the former teacher from jail time. She changed her mind after discovering that the defendant seemed more upset over his legal woes than he was concerned with the woman.

Sometimes, cases are not as cut and dried as first they appear. Witnesses and plaintiffs all can have ulterior motives and agendas that affect their testimonies and influence them to make allegations against someone. Those facing similar sex crime allegations must be ready to face off against their accusers in a courtroom battle to salvage not only their reputation but their liberty as well. An experienced defense attorney can often turn the tide of a trial during cross-examination, thus casting doubt about the defendant's guilt for the jury.

Source: New York Daily News, "Student who admits she had sex with Manhattan prep school teacher testifies at his trial" Erik Badia and Larry McShane, Feb. 19, 2015

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