Broken silence, p.16

Broken Silence, page 16

 part  #2 of  Silence Series

 

Broken Silence


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  Chapter Seventeen

  Cole

  “Are you ready for this?” I asked Jasper as we stood outside the courtroom waiting to be let inside.

  “Not really,” he replied. “This is a bad idea. ”

  Yeah, probably. Thinking about Max made me want to go postal, so fuck knows what I was going to be like hearing him lie.

  “Cole, do you think she’s really okay with us being here?”

  “I think so. She would’ve said if she wasn’t. ”

  She wouldn’t because she’d never tell anyone what to do, especially not Jasper when it came to their dad, but I didn’t want to tell him that. This seemed like something he had to do. I still wasn’t sure why I was here. To hear his side and see how he was going to try swinging it or to support Jasper since Oakley and Sarah were dead against going.

  We’d only decided late last night that we were going to attend. A spur of the moment decision. Probably a stupid one too.

  The door to the courtroom opened and people started filtering in.

  “Well,” I said, “we should go in, I suppose. ”

  “Yeah. ” He nodded but neither of us moved.

  I slapped his back and took a step towards the door. “Come on. ”

  Jasper followed. Tension radiated from him. He was about to hear what lies his dad was going to spout out to make his sister look like a liar.

  There were too many charges against him, some already proven, but his lawyer seemed determined to knock the ones relating to Oakley off the list so who knows what bullshit was about to come out of his mouth.

  We sat side by side, and I wondered if I could leave. I didn’t want to be here but I wanted to be able to prepare Oakley if Max’s version of events changed anything. If the jury seemed like they were believing him.

  Max looked like he’d aged more than just four years but he still appeared every bit the respectable man. He wore a smart black expensive looking suit, crisp white shirt and pale blue tie. His hair was nearly combed and he was clean-shaven.

  He stood confidently, back straight and chin up. My hatred grew. How dare he stand there and pretend he’s not a monster after everything he’d done?

  Jasper’s fists were clenched on his knees and he glared at his dad as if a look could murder him.

  Max spoke fluently and calmly, the way he’d done when he was running the town committee to raise money for the new park and the church roof. I remembered watching him when I was young, hero-worshiping him because he was the reason our village was getting a skate ramp.

  Page 61

 

  “Mr Farrell, how did you feel when you first heard the claims your daughter had made against you?” Linda asked. She carried herself as if she’d already won the case. I wasn’t sure if that confidence would bite us in the arse or if it was good and would show the jury she was certain Max was guilty.

  “Devastated. Shocked. Confused. One minute we’re setting up for a weekend camping and the next she’s taken off and I’m arrested. It still feels like a nightmare. ”

  “Why did you only take Oakley camping? You have two children, it seems rather strange that you’d only take your daughter. ”

  Max nodded and very swiftly replied, “I would have taken both but Jasper didn’t want to come in the end. ”

  “What do you mean ‘in the end’?”

  “To begin with Oakley didn’t want him to come. She wanted me to herself, the way she only wanted Sarah – her mother – to take her to gymnastics. Camping became my time with Oakley and my son’s time was football on a Sunday morning. ”

  “Liar,” Jasper growled under his teeth.

  The football part was true, the rest was Max’s fantasy.

  “You allowed your five-year-old daughter to dictate who was going on these trips?”

  Max smiled his award-winning smile. “She needed one-on-one time and so did Jasper, every child does. We had plenty times together as a family too but they both needed occasions where they had my undivided attention. ”

  I ground my teeth.

  “Mr Farrell, why did you not tell your wife an old friend, Mr Frank Glosser, was joining you on your trip?”

  “It was last-minute. Frank called me to say he’d just arrived in town and was about to check in to a hotel. Within an hour he was with us. Sarah knew Frank and knew he’d visited us at the camp site before, I knew she wouldn’t have an issue with it and Frank always stayed in a separate tent. ”

  “You took a spare tent?”

  “He hired one from the campsite. They have a record of the booking. ”

  Linda smiled briefly. She knew that already. “Of course. And why did Mr Glosser continue to join you on these trips after Oakley stopped talking? Did it not seem odd to you that she stopped soon after you’d been camping?”

  “Frank is an old friend and he’d been joining us for a while. My son and daughter liked him and had no issue spending time with him. Frank had been around them both long before Oakley stopped talking and she’d never expressed any unease in his presence. ”

  “So it never crossed your mind that someone could be forcing her to stay silent? You did say you spent many hours researching and visiting doctors. ”

  “It was a consideration, of course, but we trusted everyone we had around our children. ”

  “Still, the one person that saw more of your daughter than your son on a one-to-one basis was Mr Glosser. ”

  “Frank had spent time with just myself and my son over the years,” Max replied smoothly. He was a picture of calm, as if the questions being asked now were about the weather.

  Linda smiled briefly. “How did Oakley’s silence affect you?”

  “It was difficult to say the least. We were desperate to help her and put everything in to finding out what was wrong. As a result we suffered physical, emotionally, and financially. I lost work because I was so preoccupied in finding out what was wrong with my child. My ex wife and I fought, both lost as to what to do for the best. We didn’t know how to help. I’ve not had a full night’s sleep since the day she stopped speaking. ”

  “Probably worrying she’d speak up,” Jasper muttered in disgust under his breath.

  “You suffered financially?” Linda asked.

  “Yes. ”

  “Mr Farrell, did you take money in exchange for allowing Mr Glosser to sexually abuse your daughter?”

  “No,” Max replied, appalled. “Absolutely not. ”

  “How was your relationship with Oakley affected?”

  His eyes teared and he blinked hard a few times. Jasper glared.

  “It was never quite the same. I still loved her just as much but part of her had closed off to us all. She no longer squealed in delight when I threw her in the air or ran around the back garden with her on my shoulders. We couldn’t talk and I stopped hearing her say ‘I love you, Daddy’. ” He paused and took a deep breath. “It broke my heart. ”

  I gripped the seat, fingertips digging into the wood. ‘Don’t believe it,’ I prayed in my head, willing the jury to see through his lies.

  Page 62

 

  Linda rocked back on her heels. “Mr Farrell, why do you think Oakley stopped talking?”

  “I believe she has Histrionic Personality Disorder. ”

  What?

  Jasper’s head snapped to me and he frowned, his dumbfounded expression mirroring mine.

  Linda didn’t look at all surprised by the disorder Max just threw out of his mouth. “People with Histrionic Personality Disorder – HPD – typically have extravagant and lively personalities, Mr Farrell. ”

  She was ready for it.

  Max tilted his head to the side. “Sufferers tend to have dramatic behaviour,” he corrected. “Oakley was a very lively child but with a sibling she could never have the majority of our attention – until she stopped talking. People with Histrionic Personality Disorder also act out a role, that of
a character or a victim. ”

  I looked to Jasper, panicked. Shit, he’s found something that could explain her behaviour. Jasper stared at the jury with wide eyes, willing them to see through Max’s crap.

  This wasn’t good.

  “Mr Farrell, you state that you’ve spent the best part of fifteen years trying to figure out what was wrong with your daughter. Is that correct?” Linda asked.

  “Yes. ”

  “Hmm, then it seems rather odd that you only come across this disorder after your arrest. ”

  Max said nothing.

  “I’ve been looking over your police statements and nothing was mentioned then. ”

  “My ex wife and I spent hours on the internet searching muteness. We’ve visited countless doctors and specialists in that field and not one of them mentioned Histrionic Personality Disorder. When she went to the police with her claim, I realised there was something more to it, that she had chosen not to speak. My searches changed and that’s when I found HPD. ”

  “Hmm. So why do you think she spoke out then? She was away with you, getting your full attention, surely she wouldn’t have needed to act out?”

  “I told her Mr Glosser was coming for the weekend, she was unhappy to say the least. I hadn’t seen Frank in almost a year and he was in town. Oakley didn’t want him to come, she thought it was just going to be us. I assume that’s when she created her story. She was excited about the trip, put the tent up almost completely by herself and brought two backpacks full of marshmallows. When I told her Frank was coming she dumped the marshmallows in the bin and wouldn’t make eye contact. Rapid shift in emotion is very typical in HPD. ”

  I looked at Jasper again and he stared at his father with hatred. He also looked as terrified as I felt. Surely the jury wouldn’t fall for that?

  I gulped. This is bad.

  Chapter Eighteen

  Oakley

  My father’s lawyer, John Bee, was such an intimidating man. He made me feel like a child. His face was hard with angular lines and a pointed jaw. Everything about him screamed ‘I’m going to break you. ’

  Cole and Jasper hadn’t said much about watching my father give evidence, and I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing. Whatever it was I didn’t want to know. I had enough stress at the minute, and I didn’t know how much more I could take.

  John stepped in front of me. He wasn’t even that close, but it felt as if he was just an inch from my face. I looked at him straight on, determined not to show how scared I was.

  “You claim that your father first took you to meet Mr Glosser alone when you were five years old, is that correct?”

  “Yes,” I replied.

  Without blinking, he fired off the next question. “And how soon after that did you stop talking?”

  “I can’t remember exactly. About a month, I suppose. ”

  He started walking back away from the jury. “So there was a gap between the start of the alleged abuse and you stopping talking?”

  “Yes. ”

  “I see. ” He clicked his tongue, turned to the jury and held his hand up, extending his index finger. “And you claim that you were forced to remain silent forever because your father did not want anyone to find out. ”

  “I never said forever. He never said forever, but yes. ” He never mentioned a time limit, and I never really thought about it. I was too afraid to talk again, so I tried living a new kind of life.

  “So between the start of the alleged abuse and when you stopped talking there was nothing in your way of speaking out. Is that correct?”

  I shook my head. “No. That’s not true. ”

  “You claim your father threatened you. Is this correct?”

  “Yes. ”

  Page 63

 

  “And what did he say?”

  “That he would kill my mother. I was terrified that it was true. ”

  “You believed words could kill her?” He cocked his head to the side. Patronising, word-twisting bastard. When I was five, I believed my dad – every word. I had no idea what could or couldn’t kill a person then. I didn’t understand any of it, all I knew was that I loved my mum and didn’t want her to die.

  I said nothing.

  “Miss Farrell, did you like playing games as a child. ”

  What kind of question was that? “Yes, of course,” I replied. What child didn’t play?

  He nodded and swiftly moved to his next question. “Did you play make-believe games?”

  “Yes,” I replied cautiously, knowing this couldn’t be leading anywhere good. Me, Jasper, Cole, and Mia used to play all sorts of games, pretending we were our favourite TV show characters, from Power Rangers, and programmes like that. Every child did.

  “Mmm. And when you stopped talking, you liked the attention you got, didn’t you?”

  My face fell. That was where he was going. “No, that’s not how it was. ”

  “You said you liked to play make-believe games. ”

  Keeping calm was almost impossible. What kind of a person would make up something so evil? I hated that anyone could even suggest I was lying about it. All I ever wanted was a happy, normal family. I never wanted any of this.

  “I did not make that up. ”

  John turned on his heel and took a few steps towards the jury. He had been walking around the whole time. He seemed so at ease here, as if this was his house and we were guests.

  “Miss Farrell, you state that after the first time Mr Glosser accompanied you and your father he was there every occasion after that, is that correct?”

  “Yes. ”

  “Did he meet you at your house?”

  “No. My family were never aware he was with us. ”

  “He was waiting for you?”

  “No, he always came after we’d set up and been to the local shop. ”

  Being on the stand meant that I was slightly higher than him, so I used that to my advantage and straightened my back, forcing him to look up to me. “You said your father took payment from Mr Glosser?”

  “That’s correct. ”

  “Could that not have merely been Mr Glosser paying for his half of the food bill? You said he showed after you’d shopped. ”

  “No,” I growled through my teeth. Linda looked up and widened her eyes, warning me to remain calm. I needed to, but I couldn’t help it. He was twisting everything I had said to make it look like I was lying.

  “How did you know what the exchange of money was for? Were you told?”

  “No, but—”

  “So it could have been his share of dinner. Miss Farrell, you’ve also alleged your father took photographs during the abuse, even though no pictures of you have been found. ”

  I narrowed my eyes. “They should look harder. ” I didn’t even bother looking at Linda’s face. No doubt she would be wincing at my knee-jerk response, which was exactly what the defence wanted. The photos existed, I knew they did.

  “Every phone, tablet, PC, and laptop in your father’s position has been searched, Miss Farrell. I can assure you there aren’t any pictures to back up your claim. ”

  I didn’t know if I should be pleased they were gone and no one would ever see them or frightened that them being gone backed up Dad’s story.

  “It happened,” I whispered, and looked to the jury. Please believe me.

  “Miss Farrell, could you at least tell me what camera was allegedly used?”

  I shook my head. “I don’t know. It was silver, but I don’t know which make. ”

  “Of course,” he replied. “And was this the family’s camera?”

  I looked at him coldly. “My father’s sick, not stupid. ”

  Linda stood up. “Can we please a five-minute break?”

  John the arsehole objected but the judge agreed and called a recess.

  “I’m sorry,” I mumbled, dropping to the seat in the little room where I passed out a
few days ago.

  “Oakley,” Linda said, sitting down beside me. “You’re doing great but you need to try to keep your cool. Their whole argument is that you’re a troublemaker that craved the attention. Unfortunately any sign of anger or temper from you – however understandable in the circumstances – means you’re playing right into their hands. I know it’s frustrating. I’ve been sitting there wanting to throw my briefcase at him, but I can’t. You have to stay calm. ”

  Page 64

 

  I nodded and ran my hand through my hair roughly. “I know. ” She was right. If I let him get to me and blew this chance of getting Dad and Frank sent down then I would have messed up the whole reason I spoke out in the first place. For me and all the other girls, I had to do this. “I’ll be fine now. I won’t let him get away with it. ”

  She smiled. “Good girl. You can do this. Just stay calm. He can’t trip you up, because you’re telling the truth. ”

  “Okay. I’m ready. ”

  Linda squeezed my hand and stood up. “Let’s get back in there. ”

  “Welcome back, Miss Farrell,” John Bee said, almost sarcastically. I wanted to give him the finger. I’d never given anyone the finger before, but he was a good place to start. “You said the alleged abuse lasted for eight years, until you turned thirteen?”

  “That’s correct,” I said.

  “And how did that make you feel?”

  My heart dropped. I had to talk about that. “Dirty, worthless, and broken. ”

  “So broken that you started a relationship with Mr Benson?”

  With shaking hands, I gripped the bottom of my top. “That was completely different. ” Why was he doing this? No one had the right to tell me when I could have a relationship, or my reasons for doing so. There was no set time for everything to be okay: none of this would ever be okay, but I had to keep going on. I would never apologise for my relationship with Cole. It may have been ‘too soon’ to other people, but it was right for me. I found a little bit of courage buried deep.

  “I wasn’t aware there was a time limit on when I was allowed to be happy again. ” I mentally kicked myself and refused to look at Linda. I knew she would be giving me a warning stare. I couldn’t help it, he was getting under my skin.

  He ignored my comment. “So your physical relationship with Mr Benson started at the beginning of summer in 2008?” How did he know that?

  My heart stuttered. I knew he might bring Cole up, but I had no idea he would be so personal. “Yes. ”

 
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