MARIAH O'BRIEN TESTIFIES: Danny Masterson Trial, Day 15, lunch break report
[This report was produced live during a court hearing with a lot going on. There will be typos. Please don't email us about typos that you find.]
Late morning session.
Chynna Phillips has joined the family section.
Cross-examination of Dr. Mindy Mechanic continues.
Goldstein: Intimate partner sexual violence: One of the studies you cited, about why a person might leave, in their materials is based on Twitter hashtags.
In that study, that's self reported information are hashtags.
And people tried to determine themes from those hashtags.
And you talked about appeasement.
And on a first date, that could happen.
It also could not be a strategy on a first date?
You also talked about disclosures, and inconsistencies. And you would not expect those statements 100 percent the same.
It would be reasonable or their to be differences.
And you differentiated between core memory and peripheral details.
And you would expect the peripheral details to vary.
Yes. I wasn't saying to expect contradictions, that to say he was wearing a blue shirt in one interview and a brown shirt in another. I was talking about more or less details, not contradictory ones.
Can you give us examples of peripheral details.
A clock on the wall. What shirt he was wearing. It doesn't mean they can't remember those, it means they might not give those details.
You noted that the way statements are given over time, the details can also vary depending on the questioning.
And you're familiar with proper protocol.
Forensic investigation for criminal law or for research.
You must know the best ways to elicit details.
It depends on the context. You do different interviews for different purposes.
Because of nuance.
Because the goals are different.
You referenced you were supervising students to make sure they were using proper protocols.
We were using very particular methods and yes I was supervising them.
You're aware that the protocol, or speaking with victims, there would be a preference for open-ended questions.
I have not trained law enforcement on how to do any interviews.
In your forensic work, part of the protocol is for open-ended question than a leading one. (Obj, sustained) Well when you interview alleged victims, you try to elicit truthful information.
When I interview victims of trauma, it's usually in a personal injury context, or a military situation.
And you are trying to elicit truthful information? (Obj, sustained) When you said consistent statements can be affected by how they are questioned.
And can it be affected if a member of law enforcement uses a leading or open-ended question (Obj, sustained.) Regarding consistent and inconsistent, is it problematic if it is repeated question in in an area. (Obj, sustained.) When we were speaking before the break, about self-reported information, basis of most the studies you spoke of, you said you do not personally believe that people for studies would have a motivation to lie.
But in reality, not in a study, when you interview victims, there could be a motive to life. (Obj, overruled)
I mean, in any context someone could lie.
A person could give an interview and be motivated by money.
By a whole of things.
Yes, none of which would apply to research.
You said you are a blind expert, and yo don't know much about this case.
But you don't live under a rock and you did hear a little about it.
But you didn't interview the accusers or witnesses.
You don't know if the alleged victims gave inconsistent statements in this case.
I do not.
You don't know if the victims lied in this case (Obj, sustained) You're paid here for your time right?
Your hourly rate?
And do you take a half-day retainer?
Not on this case.
And you had to drive to the court?
And you have to drive back to your office?
Mueller: The label CIVB, that's just a label.
It's a label in court, I would never use it in my work.
The ultimately concepts under this umbrella term, those have al preexisted any label.
Yes, and some of them cut across trauma, and not just applying to sexual assault.
And the study involving the college students. You're familiar with the methodology?
And the methodology did not influence a response.
That would be true.
Was that study peer-reviewed?
Yes. I would never rely on a study that was not peer-reviewed. It's a very rigorous process and only a few are accepted for publication, as low as 5 or 10 percent. If we review a study and find issues we might send it back for further research. And if it's inadequate it won't be published.
You were asked a number of times that these studies stem from information that is self-reported.
Studies involving CIVB, how long have those behaviors been studied?
People have been studying sexual assault since around 1970s. So research has continued to grow and develop.
And those studies, to be published, they have to be peer-reviewed.
Yes, but I don't rely on those old studies, I rely on newer studies. We're studying a lot more things than we were in the 1970s. If there would be a problem, that would be picked up in peer-review. And it's not just one reviewer, it's usually three experts who examine a study. There are four studies regarding post-assault contact, and they're more recent, but they're congruent.
Goldstein: So there are only four studies about post-sexual contact?
Yes, there are just those four studies.
Are you aware that one of those was done in 1988?
And the most recent is from 2016?
And so there's been no more recent than that?
And none of the studies you've cited are based on the facts of this case?
I don't know the facts of this case.
Thank you. Nothing further.
Dr. Mechanic is excused.
People call Mariah O'Brien. (Was married to Giovanni Ribisi, and they have a daughter, Lucia.)
Anson: Do you know someone by the name of [Jane Doe 2].
We might like, probably at a party, 15 years ago?
And after you met, could you describe how your relationship developed.
We were good friends. We were maybe acquaintances initially, I'm trying to remember, I think there was a time when I moved and I was more available for girlfriend hangs, and we would go to the beach or hang out at a pool.
So you became closer friends.
When you were closer friends, when was that.
I believe it was the tail end of, I broke my legs in 2011 and she came closer to my house. So it was around those years, 2011, 2012, 2013.
And then did it change to not be close?
That's an understatement, but yes.
When did that occur?
I think the fall of 2014 from what I recall, of our last encounter at my house.
So from that encounter to today you would say you were not close?
What do you mean.
We stopped speaking. I stopped speaking to her and I might have run into her only once or twice.
Do you see someone you recognize in the courtroom.
I see a lot of people I recognize.
Do you see someone named Danny Masterson?
He's sitting over here in a blue suit and dark blue tie.
When did you meet him?
I think it was 1994 to 1995, but maybe earlier.
How would you characterize it
I would say were acquaintances. We would see each other at parties and events
Did it become professional?
I worked for Mr. Masterson and his wife over several years.
And did you also know someone named [Jane Doe 3]?
How did you meet her?
I think I met her at Mr. Masterson's house at a previous house.
What was your relationship with her when you met?
Several years ago. The first memory I have of meeting her when I became engaged to my first husband, around 1996.
Did you know her as his girlfriend?
Yeah, I saw them together. But I wasn't close enough to know details. He might have had five girlfriends for all I knew.
But you saw them together.
He might have brought her to my engagement party, maybe?
So you said your relationship ended with JD2 and it involved your house. Did something happen there then?
Who else was there.
My kids were there. [Names]. Potentially Binki, but I'm not certain.
So your children, potentially Binki, and JD2.
JD2 went for a walk while I prepared dinner.
Are you a member of Scientology?
In 2014, did you consider yourself a member?
I don't think so. It wasn't a strong consideration one way or the other. I've always practiced Buddhism and considered that my main belief.
So everyone was eating dinner?
Yeah, I made food and everyone was eating, that I do recall.
And the subject of Scientology and Mr. Masterson came up?
I remember the discussion about Masterson I don't remember a discussion about the church.
Did JD2 have a reaction to that?
What was the reaction?
She was upset. She became distraught and angry.
When you say distraught...
I think she may have even stood up from her chair.
And that signaled to you that she was upset.
Yeah, she was upset, turning red.
Did she blurt out something?
What did she blurt out.
She said that she had been raped by Mr. Masterson.
And after she blurted that out, what was your reaction.
From what I recall, I was shocked. i was also upset that she was speaking that way in front of my children. I also vaguely recall saying to her that I considered him a family person in my life, so I was not having this.
what did she do?
She left. I don't recall if I had asked her to, or if she got up and left. But she left.
And that's the event that changed your relationship
Yeah, we stopped speaking.
I'm going to ask you about a different topic. Do you remember a couple of years later messaging with JD3?
Yes. I believe it was 2016, 2017.
Would looking at a copy of those messages refresh your memory of the date?
Yes. (Checks.) Yes, I thought it was 2016. I'm relieved to know my brain is still working.
What was the date you received a message.
Nov 18, 2016.
Without getting into the contents, did JD3 ask you a question relating to Masterson?
And did she specifically ask you if you knew anyone who had accused him of rape?
Yeah, I think it was more, did I know anyone who had that occur.
And what did you tell her? (Obj, sustained) Did you provide her with a name of someone that was a response to that?
And what name did you provide to her?
Jane Doe 2.
And did JD3 share something with you about what had happened to her and Masterson (Obj, overruled)
Yeah, I don't remember specifically, but she said she had been sexually assaulted by Masterson.
And did she ask you for contact info for JD2?
Maybe? I don't recall the details, but I do remember telling her I was no longer in contact with JD2.
Did she ask you for how to reach JD2?
No, I don't think she did, but is it that hard to get in touch with someone?
What I'm asking is if JD3 was asking for help finding her. (Obj, sustained) Did you provide contact information?
I don't know. I sadly was searching for those messages to see if I had them because I don't recall well.
When you said you were working for Masterson and his wife, is that today?
No, not currently.
And your relationship with JD3?
I don't have a relationship with her. I only spoke with her that one time.
No further questions.
Cohen: You had been friends with JD2 a number of years prior to the 2014 dinner.
I knew her, I became friends with her about 2011.
And that's when you broke your legs?
I broke both legs and foot in 40 places.
And that's when you spent more time together?
And she also had a relationship with my older daughter, and she had brought her over during my convolescing.
And during this you became closer friends.
This is 2011, 2012, 2013.
She's not my best friend or anything, but we were friends.
And the first that the idea of Masterson raping her came up at this dinner in 2014?
Did you ever receive an email from JD2 after that dinner?
I'm not sure.
Were you asked by the DA's office if you received an email?
Do you recall ever getting an email from her?
I don't recall getting an email. I can't remember if my daughter had said she had tried to email me.
And after this 2014 dinner you have had no conversation and very little contact with her?
I bumped into her on the street in Los Feliz and she said why haven't you responded to me, and I said because I blocked you.
And that was on the street.
Yeah, in a parking lot.
You indicated that JD3 had made mention of a sexual assault.
What she mentioned was an anal rape?
I don't know.
Your honor there would be a stipulation that the sex assault mentioned to Ms. O'Brien by JD3 was anal rape. Nothing further.
Anson: You mentioned from 2011 to 2014 that you were more than acquaintances.
But you weren't best friends.
Did you spend a lot of time one and one.
I would say yes in 2012.
But not after that?
So then it was among other people?
No, I would say it was me and her going to a restaurant. I did go to a party at her house with other people.
No further questions.
She is excused.
The People call Det. Javier Vargas. He is sworn in.
Mueller: Your occupation?
Police detective with LAPD, assigned to Hollenbeck station.
How long a peace officer
How long a detective.
approximately 15 years.
Were you assigned an alleged rape against JD1, 2, and 3?
What was your assignment then?
Detective in Robbery/Homicide, special assault section.
And you became lead investigator?
And prior to that was another detective?
Det. Esther Reyes?
So you were assigned to take over the investigation from her, is that accurate?
And you're still the lead investigator?
[Mueller enters some photos in evidence. Puts up a photo of a pool.] What is that.
The pool at Mr. Masterson's previous residence.
The one on Hollymont?
Were you there when this was taken?
You've been on the property, seen the house inside.
If you go up these stairs, where does it take you?
The rear yard.
This pool area, can you give us an indication where it is.
If you're facing the front door, this would be to the left and around the corner.
[Photo of a side yard.] This is showing an area going to the back yard?
[Photo of some back stairs] What is that?
To the right of that would be that rear yard.
So from the pool, back down that sidewalk it takes you here?
[Photo of some stairs] What is that?
We're now looking at the rear of the property. If you walk up those steps you've got that rear courtyard area.
To get back to this backyard area, there are a couple of ways to go, you could swing around the pool area and into the backyard.
Or you could go through the front door and through the house and out some stairs up to the backyard.
You've been the lead investigator for some time.
Since March 2017.
And you've conducted a number of interviews.
Did you do what we call a pre-file interview?
With JD1, JD2, and JD3?
There were reports prepared on all of those interviews.
Were they memorialized?
All three of them?
And also you had a chance to review reports from Det Reyes?
And did you review reports from Det Myers?
And did you review a report from an Officer Schlegel?
In the course of your investigation, was there a time when you had attempted to locate and interview a man named Shaun Fabos?
Who is he?
He was a friend of JD1. And one of the initial persons she disclosed the incident to.
What efforts did you make to find him?
I with Det Reyes went to his residence. There was no answer at the door. The mail was in his name. We left our business cards.
Any other attempts?
Yes, Det Reyes made two telephonic attempts to contact him, and then we went to his residence after those attempts.
Were the attempts to reach him telephonically, successful?
And what about going to his house?
He never responded.
When was this?
In that same time frame of March 2017.
What was the purpose of it?
He is what we would call a fresh complaint witness, someone a victim disclosed the incident to. And in fact, during the pretext phone calls JD1 was able to record the conversation with him.
And so you listened to that recording?
Those efforts in 2017, was that before or after you knew about that pretext call.
I believe it might have been before.
Are you aware of other efforts to locate him.
I know that Det Reyes also tried to contact him.
Judge Olmedo calls for the lunch break.
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