Friday, April 27, 2012

Medical experts testify in MacGregor case

Posted By on April 27, 2012, 5:49 PM

The second day of Kareena MacGregor’s suit continued with several doctors testifying in regard to claims of emotional distress Kareena experienced as a result of habitual sexual abuse and the cremation of her baby.---

Dee W. Hadley, a marriage counselor and clinical social worker, took the stand and detailed his work as Kareena’s therapist over the past 10 years. According to Hadley, Kareena’s level of emotional distress is severe enough she may need to continue therapy for the next 10 to 20 years.

Kareena says she was sexually abused by a group of neighborhood boys between the ages of 11 and 15. At age 15, Kareena gave birth to a stillborn baby boy in her basement. Kareena was tried and convicted of murdering her child, but the Utah Supreme Court dismissed her guilty plea after a long legal struggle, as documented in City Weekly's "Hear My Plea." Kareena is now suing in civil court six people who she says have contributed to her emotional distress. The trial began April 23.

Hadley testified that Kareena’s IQ is low enough for her to be considered “slow,” which has manifested itself in her tendency to trust easily and not protect herself as others do. Kareena’s experiences over the past 10 years have created severe “trust issues,” and causes conflicts in her marriage and other relationships today, says Hadley.

At the beginning of Hadley’s testimony, he stated that it is impossible to separate the anguish caused by the Jaroscaks, the juvenile-court system and the cremation of Kareena’s baby. Peter Goodall, Kareena’s attorney, attempted to ask several questions regarding distress caused specifically by the Jaroscaks, but was not allowed to because of the aforementioned statement.

Despite citing the inability to compartmentalize causes of emotional distress, Hadley did testify that Kareena’s depression and anxiety increased during the time of the cremation. According to Hadley, he and MacGregor explored the importance of a second autopsy many times in their sessions.

Goodall posed several questions to a pathologist, Dr. Bader Cassin, regarding the MacGregor’s contacts with him and intent of a second autopsy. According to Cassin, he had at least two phone conversations with Alona MacGregor about what he felt were biases and inaccuracies in the original autopsy, and what he could examine once he was provided with the remains.

Joseph Minnock, representing Holbrook Funeral Chapel Inc.—who the MacGregor’s believe are responsible for the untimely cremation—asked Cassin if he would have come to Utah to examine the remains had Alona expressed the urgency of the autopsy. Cassin replied that he would have, and he also confirmed that it would be possible for him to draw conclusions about the cause of death without seeing a body, provided he had proper documents and medical information.

Another doctor called to testify was Jeffrey Schmitt, Kareena’s family practitioner, who examined Kareena several times during the years from 1998, when the sexual abuse allegedly began, to 2002, when Kareena gave birth. Schmitt stated several times that he had little recollection of Kareena’s visits, and continually referred to medical notes taken during the visits.

Schmitt’s decision not to report sexual abuse after Kareena’s Feb. 23, 2000, visit was called into question by Goodall and the Jaroscak’s attorney, Patrick George. Alona took Kareena to see Schmitt after Kareena wrote a suicide note that mentioned Matt Jaroscak at least three times.

Schmitt’s medical notes stated that Kareena was upset because “fondling” with her 17-year-old boyfriend (Matt Jaroscak) was causing stress with her “mother and her boyfriend.” Goodall asked Schmitt if he considered fondling between a 17-year-old and a 12-year-old sexual abuse, to which Schmitt replied yes.

Schmitt also told Goodall that he did have training relating to the handling of child sex abuse, and that Kareena’s situation is something he would usually report as child sexual abuse because it was illegal. He stated that he has little recollection of the visit, but that it is likely he didn’t report Kareena’s case because he thought it had been reported.

His lack of recollection was also cited in his cross-examination, during which he told George he had no recollection of what the “fondling” was. George asked if Schmitt would report the “fondling” had the situation been severe enough, even if it had been previously reported, to which Schmitt answered yes.

After this exchange, Goodall displayed fervor in his redirect with Schmitt, asking Schmitt to confirm that fondling between a 17-year-old and a 12-year-old was, in fact, child abuse. Then he asked, “When is sexual abuse of a child not severe?” Schmitt replied, “It always is.”

In matters unrelated to testimony, a defendant from the LDS Church came before the judge pretrial to address Judge Fuchs’ prior ruling that the jury could allocate fault to the LDS Church on a special-verdict form. The LDS Church defendant stated it was filing a motion to repeal the ruling based on the merits of the church’s dismissal from the trial. Judge Fuchs has yet to respond to the motion.

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Katherin Nelson

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