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
Nielsen told Meyer he replied, "I don't know what you are talking about" and asked the victim if he was "delusional." The lawyer supported Nielsen's version of the call with a declaration by Jeannine Watson, Nielsen's law firm colleague. Watson claims she secretly listened to the conversation and took notes.
The phone call gave Meyer the first break (other than delaying the trial, of course) that he's had in a dismal case. A crafty legal veteran known for his connections and ability to finagle special favors in courthouse chambers, Meyer quickly contacted the local FBI office, portrayed Nielsen as a victim and demanded a formal investigation. He followed up in court by suggesting that Hess or other law-enforcement officers had tried to "ambush" his client with a role in the alleged extortion call.
Those who know Hess—a mild-mannered, ethical prosecutor who gained publicity for his role in the Haidl gang rape case—can only smile at Meyer's tactics. Hess responded in a court filing last week by saying Nielsen's attempt to discredit the second victim are meritless. To help prove his Westminster case, he wants a jury to know that there is more than one boy who claims Nielsen molested him. DA investigators have found multiple independent witnesses—including a boy who grew up to become an FBI agent. Those East Coast men have backed up John Doe #2's claims with eyewitness statements, according to court records.
"Several witnesses described inappropriate activities between the defendant and John Doe #2," Hess told Judge Paer on Sept. 29. "Some described the defendant kissing, touching and fondling" the 13-year-old boy when he lived in Virginia.
The defense insists those witnesses don't exist. Whatever the truth, this much is certain: a trial that's been delayed more than 28,800 hours has been once again postponed. It's now tentatively set for Dec. 4.
The ironies are plentiful. Meyer, who unsuccessfully defended Orange County Superior Court Judge Ron Kline against sex crimes involving underage boys several years ago, has asked Judge Paer for a special ruling at the next pretrial hearing on Nov. 17. He wants all testimony by or about John Doe #2 to be excluded from future jurors because—get a whiff of this—its introduction into evidence would violate Nielsen's constitutional right to a speedy trial.