Ex-sheriff deputy’s defense unfolds in sexual assault case

Warning: This article contains graphic content.

Paul Mann
Mad River Union

EUREKA – Adhering to the traditional catechism of the defense, the two lawyers representing ex-Sheriff Sergeant Jason Scott Daniels, 42, have focused on inconsistencies in the plaintiffs’ recollections.

Yet throughout their testimony in the long-awaited sexual assault trial, both Jane Does 1 and 2 held steadfast last week to the nucleus of their case: that Daniels unlawfully detained and digitally penetrated the vagina of Jane Doe 1 in August 2013; and unlawfully groped intimate parts of Jane Doe 2’s body in a separate incident in March 2013.

Jason Scott Daniels

Jason Scott Daniels

With the trial in its second week and likely to conclude on or about June 17, the defense has failed to produce hard evidence to date for one of its main allegations. That is the claim that the two women colluded or conspired to entrap Daniels “for personal advantage.”

The defense based that argument on two factors: one pertained to two lawsuits (one for $100,000 in compensatory and punitive damages) filed by Jane Doe 2’s boyfriend on her behalf against Daniels. But she aborted both, saying on the witness stand that she had wanted closure. Her boyfriend initiated and composed the lawsuits for her, she testified.

The second claim that Daniels was “set up” was based on the testimony of a Eureka police officer who recounted for the jury a traffic stop he conducted with Jane Doe 1, wholly independent of the sex charges. He testified that she lied about, but then apologized for, giving him a false name. When he made it clear she was under arrest, she allegedly retorted, miffed, “I’ve gotten cops fired before, don’t be next!”

Jane Doe 2, the final witness as the state rested its case Friday, was pushed hard by defense counsel about gaps and discrepancies in her recollections. But she may have won over the five-woman, seven-man jury because she freely and openly acknowledged her lapses. She related that she had undergone chemotherapy for cancer, which she believes damaged her memory.

With arrest records of their own, both Jane Does admitted under oath that they are or had been hard drug users. They said they had suffered memory losses as a result. Again and again, Jane Doe 2 testified, “I don’t remember, I just can’t remember.”

Consonant with that drug history, the trial was disrupted right at the start when Jane Doe 1, aged 28, had to be hospitalized after testifying only a few minutes. She resumed the stand a day later, accompanied again by a victim support assistant in the witness box. She told the court she believed that if she detoxed – she is a confirmed heroin addict – “it would be better for the case.”

As preamble, Jane Doe 1 said her mind “was not the clearest” and she often stared down at the floor and closed eyes at length. “But I can remember the truth” of her encounter with Daniels in August 2013, she stated, “I still remember what happened.”

She testified that the face-off took place at about two or three o’clock in the morning near John’s Used Cars and Wreckers, 3008 Jacobs Ave., Eureka, just off U.S. Highway 101. She had decided to visit her boyfriend in a nearby trailer and discovered that her girlfriend, Ruby Louriero, was inside. The two women argued and yelled at each other, but soon reconciled.

“Her and I had an altercation about what she was doing in my boyfriend’s trailer at the time, me and Ruby had had words,” Jane Doe 1 recalled. “She didn’t really know he was my boyfriend.”

“That’s when the cops pulled up apparently,” just as she and Ruby had settled their differences. “We had just got done hugging” when the sheriff’s patrol car arrived. They were standing alongside the road in a section that was poorly lighted.

Jane Doe 1 pointed at Daniels seated at the defense table and identified him as the investigating officer. “He had asked both of our names and what was going on there [with the argument]. It seemed to be taking a long time.”

She remembered seeing Daniels give Louriero “a brief pat down” and put her in the back seat of his car.     

“He told me to put my hands on the vehicle,” Jane Doe 1 started to testify, but then she halted in mid-sentence. “Oh no, wait! He couldn’t have done that, he had put handcuffs on me and he walked to the vehicle and said sit down in front of the hood. I said, ‘Excuse me, am I being arrested?’ and he said, ‘We’re finding that out right now.’”

In another abrupt aside, Jane Doe 1 told the court, “My mind feels more clear now, maybe being clean is a good thing in this process.”  She reversed herself again, stating, “I didn’t in fact have handcuffs on in back of me.”

Resuming her narrative, she said Daniels told her “he should search me now. I remember being catty at that point. I was pretty messed up that night, completely inebriated.”

Asked by prosecutor Brie Bennett to explain what she meant by “catty,” Jane Doe 1 said, “I can be kind of like strike back [sic], a smart ass basically, especially when I’m drunk. I had a little bit of mouth on me and he didn’t like it too much. He got me up and pushed me back on the car, my hands in front of me.”

“Oh!” she exclaimed with a new thought. “He was sliding his hand, he was violently sticking his hands inside me and holding up a flashlight to blind traffic, so nobody else could see nothing. He was bold! Not his hands, his right fingers, the two middle fingers, [were] in my vagina.”

She held her right middle fingers up to the courtroom and continued, “I … he was grinding himself against my buttock area. I could feel his hard penis against the back side of my area in the back.”

How long did this go on? “It felt like years. I wanted him to stop, but it just seemed if I played along with it, maybe it would stop sooner.”

She said she asked Daniels, “‘If I call you later would you leave me alone?’ He was trying to get me to rub on him and I said, ‘No, no, no, no, no.’ He went for my breasts, groping my breasts in between my shirt and my body; he didn’t go flesh to flesh, [he was] putting his fingers into my vagina area.”

Jane Doe 1 testified that she asked again, “Am I under arrest?” In another bid to mollify him and fend him off, she told Daniels, “‘We can spend some time together if you wanted to’.”

She testified she was intent on returning to her boyfriend, but Daniels told her to sit in the car “‘and we’ll see what’s going on’.”

In the back seat, she turned to Louriero and asked, “‘You seen that, right?’” meaning the molestation.

“I said, ‘Do you have my back of what [sic] he did?’ and she said, ‘Yeah.’

“‘If you’d do this for me, I’d really appreciate it’,” Jane Doe 1 told Louriero. “‘I really want to fry this guy. He shouldn’t have been sticking his fingers in me. He shouldn’t be on duty out there fingering women’.”

As Daniels was about to get behind the wheel, Louriero was worried about what might happen next. “‘Am I going to jail?” Jane Doe 1 quoted her friend asking her confidentially.

Events took a different turn. Daniels inquired if the two needed a ride and Louriero asked to go to the Clarion Hotel on the 2000 block of Fourth Street in Eureka.

Jane Doe 1 elected to remain in the car. Asked if that had been her choice after being molested, she answered, “I thought he might still be taking me to jail. I don’t think I had a choice. He made me feel like I had to go, needed to go.”

Departing suddenly from her testimony, she blurted out, “This is not a normal day for me by far. I’ve been intoxicated all of my life! It’s [detoxing] horrifying, it’s terrifying!”

Slowly composing herself, she recalled that Daniels asked if she were hungry and then quoted him complaining, “It’s too bad it’s so late at night. I could’ve gotten a hotel for us.”

She agreed to move up to the front passenger’s seat at his invitation. District Attorney Chief Investigator Wayne Cox would testify later that officers do offer courtesy transport if circumstances warrant it, but a female “most definitely would sit in the back seat” behind the metal grate and Plexiglas that divides a patrol car’s interior in half.

“It was not my idea for sure,” Jane Doe 1 declared flatly. “It was Mr. Daniels’.”

She said she considered it odd and anomalous for him “to be trusting me who he didn’t know. ‘He must really want me bad,’” she thought to herself.

Did the two of you talk further, Deputy D.A. Bennett followed up.

“I said ‘I really need to get back to my boyfriend’.”

Now Daniels “was acting like he was worried about cops seeing him, acting like he was on a real date, like I was his prize possession, like this was his moment. That’s when I started getting scared. That’s when I thought, ‘There’s something wrong with him’.”

Jane Doe 1 said Daniels drove her back to her boyfriend’s trailer near John’s Used Cars and Wreckers. On the way, she testified, “He asked me if I wanted to give him head [oral sex]. I said, ‘No, absolutely not! If you want, write your number down on something’ – I don’t remember exactly [what I said]. I just remember wanting to get the fuck out of that car ’cause he was creeping me out.”

As Daniels prepared to drop off his front seat passenger – she said he leaned over and touched both of her legs while in transit – he expressed some “concerns.”

She quoted him stating, “‘Nothing is going to be said about this ... you’re not going to tell anybody about this, right?’

“I said, ‘No, of course not, no, no, no. I’m not gonna tell not a damned soul [sic]’.”

Immediately she spilled out to the jury, “Jesus Christ, how dare he! Fuck him, going to get away with this!”

She hastened to add that her case against Daniels was not personal. “I would do this [testify against] to any officer” who engaged in similar conduct.

Daniels sped off into the night Jane Doe 1 concluded. “And, yeah, he gave me his number.”

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