By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Cavallo wasn't through humiliating Doe. He next demanded the girl leave the witness stand, walk across the room to Haidl's plasma screen, and look at another image of herself. This one showed her at the beginning of the gang-bang video—a tape she had never seen until then.
"Is that you?" he asked.
"I'm not saying it's not," she said as tears poured from her face. Seemingly sympathetic jurors watched. A recess was ordered. In the hallway, two members of the defense called Doe's weeping "crocodile tears" and theorized that Hess had coached her. In a PR move, Cavallo colleague Peter Scalisi told Tori Richards, the defense team's publicist, to distribute the girl's medical and psychiatric records to the press, a move Briseño would later angrily rebuke.
After a 15-minute break, the trial continued for two hours. Doe endured questions such as: What did you think about when you sexually rode on top of a man? Did sex "feel good"? On an occasion other than the gang bang, did you orally copulate a guy after intercourse? Have you demanded anal sex? Didn't you have "a reputation as a partier"? Did you close your eyes during sex? What "sort of outfit" did you wear as a Coco's hostess? Were you "happy about going to Newport Beach to be with these boys"? Didn't you think "it would be cool to be with these boys"? Didn't you "feverishly" want to be featured in a videotaped gang bang?
Cavallo got Doe to concede that she had often lied to her parents and even to police during the initial crime investigation. But the lies were minor. For example, she told detectives that she had been "tipsy" the day before the alleged crime; she now admits she had been intoxicated.
Cavallo also seemed to think he scored a point when he zeroed-in on Doe's recent use of the legally explosive word "unconscious," a word on which the entire case may hinge: under California law, it is illegal to have sex with a person who cannot resist. Cavallo told jurors the DA's office had ordered Doe to use the word, implying she had never described herself in any way that might be construed as "unconscious." In fact, police reports show that Doe told detectives she was "knocked out" after the defendants gave her beer, marijuana and a foul-tasting mixed drink and that she had no memory of the sex. You and I might call that "unconscious"; Cavallo, who must know better, argued it was evidence the girl can't be trusted.
Cavallo further sought to discredit the girl by claiming there was a major inconsistency about when she arrived at Haidl's house. He told the jury that Doe first said she arrived "after 12:36 a.m." but later changed the time to "at 12:30 a.m." The point—argued for some 20 minutes—is inane when you know that Cavallo misrepresented her testimony. In truth, the girl said she arrived "at about 12:30."
By the end of the day, jurors and Briseño looked exhausted. Doe left the courtroom through a back exit, where her parents waited. Cavallo smiled as he packed his briefcase.
But Cavallo believed he'd scored a victory. He raced outside to hold a press conference. None of the other defense lawyers had left the courthouse when Cavallo began talking in front of a cluster of television cameras and radio-station microphones.
The defense lawyer, who is a business partner with Don Haidl, said he had "absolutely no intention ever" of making the alleged rape victim uncomfortable. "We're all professionals here," said Cavallo. Within a minute, however, he summed up the day: "I think I showed she's a manipulative little liar."
A prosecution source facetiously confided, "We should send a limo to Cavallo's house every morning to make sure he makes it to court."
For updated reports on the Haidl gang-rape trial, please visit ocweekly.com.