Mountain View Voice

News - January 21, 2011

Carbajal trial: Niece recounts being raped as child

by Nick Veronin

Two of three alleged victims took the stand at the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice in San Jose to testify against Pedro Carbajal, the Mountain View soccer coach who is accused of molesting his young nieces six to 11 years ago.

The eldest, a 21-year-old, woman maintained her composure before Superior Court Judge Griffin M. J. Bonini on Jan. 14 as she told the court that her uncle had raped her numerous times when she was between the ages of 8 and 9.

As county prosecutor Dan Fehderau questioned her in detail, she told the court that her uncle molested her while she was sharing a two-bedroom apartment on California Street with her mother, brother, two sisters, Carbajal and his wife.

During the cross examination, defense attorney Darby William attempted to cast doubt on the young woman's testimony, questioning why she had such spotty memory of the purported attacks and why she took so long to come forward. Carbajal was first arrested and charged in February of 2009.

"I didn't know if that was what uncles do to nieces," she said.

The woman — who throughout the proceedings spoke in a quiet and reserved manner — said she had tried to forget the incidents.

William suggested at one point that she may have been upset with her uncle and is seeking retribution. The woman denied that she was trying to get even with Carbajal.

A group of mostly women sat on Carbajal's side of the courtroom during the proceedings. Though they did not wish to comment on the case, one member of the group identified herself and everyone with her as "friends and relatives of Pedro."

While the woman on the stand appeared distraught for the majority of the proceedings, she never broke down while in the courtroom. However, after one recess, her lawyer asked why she had been crying during the break. There were people in the courtroom who made her uncomfortable, she said.

During Fehderau's examination, the victim said one of her sisters told her that she had also been touched inappropriately by Carbajal.

Before his arrest, Carbajal worked as a chef at a Palo Alto law firm and coached a soccer league for at-risk youth.

Throughout the day's hearings he frequently rested his face on his right hand, maintaining an emotionless expression and smiling when he stood to face the jury as they entered the courtroom after recesses.

When the trial resumed on Jan. 19, the first alleged victim resumed the stand, breaking down shortly before the end of her testimony.

"I've just been holding it in so long," she said.

When asked why she took so long to go to the authorities, she said that she was afraid of breaking up her family.

The second eldest of the alleged victims took the stand after her sister stepped down. Before the lunch recess she told Fehderau that Carbajal touched her underneath her underwear in a "rubbing motion" when she was about 8 or 9 years old.

"I was scared," she said. "I didn't know what to do or say."

So she didn't say anything, she testified.

At the Voice's press deadline Wednesday, the trail was set to resume after a lunchtime recess.

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