Youngest sister testifies in Carbajal case
A former Mountain View teacher testified Tuesday that she noticed a dramatic change in the behavior of one of the alleged victims of Pedro Carbajal during the two years she taught the girl. Carbajal, a Mountain View resident and youth soccer coach, is on trial for allegedly molesting and raping his three young nieces over the course of several years.
In the San Jose courtroom of Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Griffin M. J. Bonini, the teacher, Elizabeth Kraynek, said that she'd taught the youngest of the alleged victims in both 3rd and 4th grade. She "definitely noticed changes in her behavior in 4th grade," she said.
These changes, according to Kraynek's testimony, prompted her to fill out a "concern form" asking school administrators and the school counselor to conduct an investigation into the root of the girl's behavior.
The time period over which Kraynek noticed the change corresponds roughly with the time the youngest victim claims her uncle molested her.
The girl in question, who is currently 14, is the youngest of the three sisters who all claim their uncle — Carbajal — sexually molested them over the course of several years when they were all around the age of 8 or 9; the eldest told the court that her uncle raped her. The incidents are said to have taken place from five to 11 years ago in Mountain View and Los Gatos.
"He touched me in a way that I didn't like," the youngest girl testified on Jan. 19, telling the jury that she was around nine years old at the time. She occasionally choked up during the trial, just as her two older sisters had when they took the witness stand earlier in the trial.
During the cross examination, defense attorney Darby William asked the former teacher whether it is normal for children to change dramatically between 3rd and 4th grade. Kraynek said that children generally become more self-conscious and "hormonal" at that age, but added that in the case of the alleged victim, "it just didn't feel typical."
Last week, William asked why it took so long for the three sisters to come forward about the alleged abuse. Why did each of them respond frequently with, "I don't remember," when pressed for specific details, William asked, and lingered on questions about whether the sisters had any reason to be angry with Carbajal in the weeks leading up to the allegations of sexual abuse.
The sisters all denied having a score to settle with Carbajal and attributed their forgetfulness to a number of factors. All three said they initially didn't come forward because they didn't want to break up the family, and that they have forgotten details either because so much time has passed or they have tried to forget the trauma.
Ellen Wheeler, a trustee of the Mountain View Whisman School District, sat on Carbajal's side of the courtroom on Jan. 20 and said during a recess that she presumed him innocent until proven guilty.
Carbajal, whom Wheeler knows through various community events, coached a Mountain View soccer league for at-risk youth before he was arrested in February 2009 and charged with molesting his two younger nieces and raping the eldest.
"My sense of him was that he was an up-and-coming community leader," Wheeler said. She said she has spoken with three attorneys regarding the case, all of whom said it is unusual that Carbajal has maintained the level of community support that he has.
A group of five to eight people identifying themselves as "friends and relatives" of Carbajal have sat on his side of the courtroom since the trial began on Jan. 14.