How the Children Were Interviewed
Very early in the investigation, all of the children were interviewed on videotape. The incriminating portions of these interviews were spliced into one edited tape that was shown to the Grand Jury. The unedited tapes were never given to Baran’s trial and appellate counsel, and Baran’s current counsel, John Swomley, had to fight for years before the Berkshire District Attorney finally turned them over. (The tape of Virginia Stone’s interview is still missing.)
I have not been permitted to view the videotapes, but I saw many excerpts at the hearings on the new-trial motion. Having seen these excerpts, it is understandable why the DA would want them kept under wraps.
Fortunately, some excerpts were transcribed in a document filed by Baran’s lawyer. I include these below. Any comments are quoted from the filed doument. I have used the usual pseudonyms for all of the children. Also, I obtained from Baran a transcript of one full interview, which I include here. It’s interesting to compare the actual interview with the police report describing it.
Click here to read about Dr. Maggie Bruck’s comments on the interviewing techniques.]
For example, the transcript of Peter’s testimony is over forty-five (45) pages long, yet the edited tape covers roughly two (2) pages. The edited versions omit images such as Peter unable to stay still and answer any questions by the interviewer and the fact that his parents had to come in and try to calm him down. They also omit images of PETER being completely preoccupied with toys, donuts, and soda. Indeed, just before the part of the interview shown to the grand jury, in an example of selective reinforcement deemed problematic by Dr. Bruck, Peter is encouraged to answer through being offered donuts:
Q: I’m just going to pull this over here, all right? You move it over there. Hold onto it. Well, maybe you better have some good donut to eat, and then we’ll talk about it, okay?
A: Look, it’s [inaudible] some chair?
Q: You want something that’s under the chair? What do you want?
Q: You want some more donut? Okay, we’ll get some more donut in a minute. Are you going to go get it now?
Q: Can you bring it back over here?
Q: Okay. Oh, my goodness, Peter. That’s a great big box of donuts. Okay. Why don’t you pick one from over here. You want to put it in your bag?
A: Another one in here. I have to–
Q: You have to finish that one first? Okay. I’ll tell you what. You finish that one. I’m going to save these right here. In fact, we’ll have him sit right on top of it. How is that?
A: Um– [inaudible] [more].
Q: That’s okay. We’ll clean it up later, it’s all right.
A: I want this. Where is that, another towel?
Q: I don’t know if we have another one. Let’s see if we can just clean up with this one. That’s a good job. That’s good, Peter. Okay, good. Let’s see. Okay.
A: Which one?
Q: Oh you want that one? Which one?
A: This one.
A: Oh God it’s thick.
Q: Um-hum. Can I… Can you hold onto this? There you go.
A: To that chocolate?
Q: Oh yeah, and this is yellow, right? Can you tell me why your daddy took you to the hospital, or do you have to eat first?
A: I have to eat first.
Q: You have to eat first, okay. We’ll let you eat first.
A: What is that stuff on it?
Q: I think it’s, I don’t know. What do you think it is?
Q: I think you’re right, Peter. I think it is peanuts.
A: And now eats it.
Q: I think I’ll let you finish eating your donut first.
A: See that stuff right there?
Q: Yeah, what’s that?
A: It’s spilled beer.
Q: Say that again.
A: It’s beer.
Q: Oh, it’s beer, and that’s the foam on the beer? It is. It’s root beer.
Q: Yeah. Taste good?
A: I like root beer. Q Um-hum.
A: Us got some.
Q: Say that again for me?
A: Us got some more. Us got these donuts.
Q: That’s right. You’ve got a whole box full of them, don’t you?
A: Put them right here.
Q: You want them right there? Okay. Okay.
Q: You’re welcome. Do you think this guy had to go to the hospital? Yeah. Tell me how come he has to so?
A: I think that girl has to.
Transcripts pg. 6-9.
37) All the edited versions omit statements of denial and statements indicative of suggestiveness, as demonstrated by the following excerpts:
Q: Yeah. But if you could tell me a little bit more about what Bernie did to you.
A: He didn’t do nothing.
Q: Yeah. I know, you showed me. You showed me where he pulled down your pee pee stick.
A: He didn’t now.
Q: He didn’t do it now, though. Did he, did he do it more than one time, do you know?
Transcripts pg. 14.
DAD: No, you’re a good kid. So can you tell her if Bernie said anything, or if you said anything?
A: I don’t know.
Q: You don’t know. Okay. Maybe you’ll remember some other time and you can tell me. Maybe you don’t remember right now. Maybe it will come back to you, what Bernie said to you. When you went to the doctor yesterday, was your pee pee okay?
Transcripts pg. 21.
MOM: Peter, you can’t remember anything he said to you? Did he say wake up, or– He didn’t say anything at all?
Q: He just went and did what?
Q: And after he pulled, after he pulled on your pee pee, did he tell you anything then? Did he give you anything?
Q: No. Did he give you a box of donuts?
Q: Did he give you a box of donuts?
Q: No. Did he give you anything or say anything?
A: He gave us a birthday.
Transcripts pg. 28-29.
DAD: Look for a second. We want to know what you told us.
MOM: We can’t remember everything.
DAD: Now, did Bernie touch you?
Transcript pg. 32
DAD: Is Bernie bad?
Transcript pg. 34.
Q: [ ] Did you play, did you play a game called “The Touching Game” at ECDC?
A: No. . . .
Q: Yeah. So I was remembering, I know a game that I used to play called “The Touching Game”. I wonder if you ever played that at school.
A: I didn’t.
Q: You don’t remember that game?
A: We didn’t do it.
Q: You didn’t?
Transcript pg. 7-8.
Q: Yeah, he just pulled them down. Were some other children around when he did this to you? Were there other kids of other people in the room?
A: Just two people.
Q: Two people?
A: Two teachers.
Q: Two teachers? Can you remember their names?
A: Um, no. One was named Bernie.
Q: One was named Bernie
A: But there was no [inaudible]. Mommy, what’s the girl’s name? M: Was it Stephanie or Eileen?
Transcript pg. 16-17.
Q: You’re gonna tell your mommy. Did you tell your mommy?
A: At home I did.
Q: At home you did. Did anybody see Bernie do that, honey? Did anybody see Bernie touch you? Did he do it all by himself?
A: I did it.
A: I did.
Q: You seen him? Yeah.
A: We put our legs like that.
Q: You did? Yeah? Did Bernie touch you anywhere else? Just down there? And what do you call down there?
Q: Tookoo. And Bernie touched you there? Did he hurt you?
A: Uh, yeah.
Q: No? He just touched you? Did he put his hand inside you?
Q: – in your pants?
Transcripts at 9-10.
Q: Okay. We were talking about when you went to ECDC, right, [Johnny nods yes] do you remember when you were there a long time ago, [Johnny nods yes] do you remember being touched with bad touch? [Johnny nods yes] Yeah? Who touched you on a bad touch way?
Q: Richard did? Do you remember any big people, adult people who touched Johnny in a bad way that made him feel kind of funny inside, like that person shouldn’t do that to me?
Q: Are you sure it was Mary? [Johnny nods yes] Yeah?
Transcripts at 6.
Q: Did Bernie, did Bernie ever touch some of the other little boys in school?
Transcripts at 18.
Q: Did he go [spitting sound]? He spit it out. What did Bernie do with his weiner?
A: I don’t know.
Q: Huh? Did he put it in Scott’s mouth?
A: [Spitting sound]
Q: Yuck. Huh?
A: I don’t know.
Q: Did Bernie ever do that to Johnny? [Johnny shakes head no] No?
A: Not even.
Q: No, you can’t bring it home ’cause I got other children I got to talk to and they want to see him too. When Bernie touched Johnny, when he touched him on his dinky, where were you? Try to remember. Where were you? Were you in the classroom? Were you taking a nap with Richard? Were you in the bathroom? Do you remember where you were? Is it hard for you to remember?
A: Can I hold that?
Q: Yeah. Sure. Try to think about where you were. Johnny? Ah, you’ve got a cold.
MAN: Richard remembers.
Q: Richard remembers where he was. Do you remember when it happened? Whoops. Do you remember that it happened in the shed one time? Hm? Johnny?
Transcripts at 32-33.
Q: Johnny? Can you remember something that happened in the woods that you didn’t like?
Transcripts at 34.
Q: So what we were talking about that day was private parts and if anybody ever touched your private parts, right?
Q: Right? Okay. So if you can remember way back a long time ago, do you ever remember anybody touching your private parts?
A: My dupy.
Q: Who touched your dupy?
Q: Johnny touched your dupy?
Q: Is Johnny a friend of yours?
A: No (shaking head.)
Transcript pg. 6-7 (found in A-695-696)
Q: Okay. Well, were you playing that game of hide and seek one time in the shed?
Q: Uh-huh? I know this is kind of hard to talk about; isn’t it?
A: (Slight Nodding)
Q: Kind of embarrassing to talk about things that might be a little bit scary; right?
A: slight (Nodding)
Q: But remember that Mom loves you; right? And nobody’s going to be mad at you if you tell us what happened because we think that maybe something happened. In the shed. And we kind of, I kind of want you to tell me so that I can help you understand why that happened.
Transcript pg. 15 (found in A-704)
Q: Yeah, he does? So what we were talking about was a game you were playing, hide and seek when you were in the shed, right? Can you show me where a person touched Richard when he was in the shed?
Q: On the dupy?
Q: Okay. Can you just kind of show me on this doll? Can you just point to the area where it is?
Q: Right there on the dupy, right?
Q: Who was the person that touched Richard?
Transcript pg. 17 (found in A-706)