I thought this post might be helpful for those of you who are following the Danford Grant sexual assault case and have limited exposure to the criminal justice system. I’m pretty comfortable praising and vilifying our justice system based on my own experience and observations, and no, I won’t for a second claim I have the solutions for when it fails to satisfy my own personal agenda. Let’s face it, it’s a little like the elections we just endured, we win a few and we lose a few, but compared to those countries that change leadership by means of a coup, we’re doing the best we can.
However, before I go on, it might be wise for me to head off some inevitable comments to this post by saying right up front, Grant should be considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. I guess I look at that as a given, but for some it needs to be said.
Now, let’s talk about trial strategy in cases like this one. Grant’s attorneys are very experienced; their firm, Allen, Hanson & Maybrown has been around for a long time, and I’ve been in court on cases involving David Allen myself. I will say as an aside, he doesn’t look like he’s aged as much as I have, but I digress.
Be prepared for the use of at least two likely defense strategies in this case, one you may not notice, as it won’t get as much press, and another that will most likely make you blood boil.
Defense Strategy #1
The first strategy Grant’s attorneys will probably need to employ is an effort to separate all of the cases. The last thing attorneys want is for jurors to listen to numerous victims describe how they were each attacked on separate occasions by the client. At some point, maybe during the testimony of victim number three, or number five, jurors get fed up and decide there is no way to get to innocent in the case. By having different juries hear each case, it becomes more plausible that the client is not a serial rapist. Granted, the defense runs the risk of winning say four out of five, but that sentence looks much shorter than a sentence based on numerous convictions.
To avoid this separation of victims into separate trials, the prosecution has to make a convincing argument that the nexus between the individual assaults is so compelling that the court has to hear them together. Linking the suspect’s modus operandi (MO) to numerous victims helps paint a picture of his overall intent, and definitely makes the defense team’s job more difficult. In this particular case, I would be surprised if Grant’s attorneys can separate all of these cases, but Allen and Hanson have been around a while, and nothing surprises me anymore. I don’t know much about Maybrown, so I’ll defer on his litigation skills for now and just stick with who I know.
Defense Strategy #2
No matter how the court rules on separation, the next defense strategy most likely will involve vilifying the victims in this case. Defense attorneys normally tread carefully with this approach in sexual assault cases, but here, with severely marginalized victims, they can feel a little bolder. After all, who’s going to step up to defend Asian women, with limited understanding of our culture and language, some of whom may have been providing massage without a license, or maybe worse.
Nonetheless, the defense will most likely try and paint all of the victims with the same brush by alleging that these cases were merely prostitution transactions gone bad, essentially misunderstandings of some sort. Obviously, this approach sails much better if the cases are separated, in which case some juries may buy this version of the events. However, this allegation starts to sound questionable after the fourth victim tells her story, assuming the cases aren’t separated.
Another Possible Strategy
Although I’m less certain about this possibility, there is a chance that Grant’s attorneys might try to vilify the massage industry itself to some degree if the cases aren’t separated. Granted, they most likely may try to distinguish between legitimate and illicit massage, but one or more of the victims did possess a valid massage license and willingly and courageously reported her assault immediately after it occurred.
The defense will have to find a way to lump all of these victims together, licensed or not. Again, I’m a little less certain about this strategy being employed, but be prepared, they are not merely defending a rape suspect, but one of their own, a colleague, and I’m pretty sure they will pull out all the stops to win this one.
I hope to see if I can sit in on this case, at least on a few occasions, and will keep you posted on what I know as things move ahead. I am not an attorney, and would never claim for a second to fully understand the legal wrangling that is going on here, but I hope I can help Massage Cop followers manage your emotions and expectations about all of this.
Lavon “Butch” Watson is a retired police detective who has been a successful licensed massage practitioner since 1997. Since 2008 he has combined his diverse skill set to become an acknowledged expert on illicit massage and personal safety for massage practitioners. Mr. Watson not only provides personal safety training for massage practitioners, but also offers the most unique ethics training workshops offered anywhere in the United States, speaking to every aspect of illicit massage and its affects on the legitimate massage community as well as the often silent victims of human trafficking.