By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — The state of Indiana had all of its witnesses testify in the second day of a jury trial for a Warsaw man accused of molesting a child more than 20 times.
Jose Luis Izaguirre, 32, Warsaw, is charged with three counts of child molesting, all level 1 felonies. During trial proceedings, Izaguirre is receiving Spanish translations of what’s being said via two interpreters.
The state delivered its case on Wednesday, April 21, by calling five witnesses, the first being the child Izaguirre allegedly molested.
Accompanied by a therapy dog, the child gave testimony on the types of inappropriate activity Izaguirre engaged in with them and how often the incidents occurred. They said penetration happened and that Izaguirre made them watch pornography.
“He would usually yell at me to stop moving,” said the child about the incidents. “I would say stop, or cry, or just be quiet.”
The child testified that when the molestations occurred, two other children were within the vicinity. However, the child said one was an infant and the other frequently played video games with a wireless headset on. When asked by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Sobek if they were able to get away when Izaguirre would initiate inappropriate contact, the child said they could sometimes but not all the time.
The child said the incidents occurred weekly, sometimes more, with the last incident happening about a month before they told a friend about the molestations. They said they were hesitant to report the molestations due to fear of creating familial hardships for their mother and sibling.
In cross-examination, Defense Attorney Jay Rigdon asked the victim if they ever ended up in a situation where the child who played video games would notice what was occurring. The victim said the child was typically very engrossed in their game and wore a wireless set of headphones outside of their room if they left.
The child’s mother was the state’s second witness. In her testimony, she said she knew Izaguirre for about 10 years. She became aware of the molestations on March 29, 2019, when she got a call from her child’s school.
Upon arrival at the school, officers and Department of Child Services representatives told her that her child reported being inappropriately touched by Izaguirre. After that, the mother went to the Warsaw Police Department and requested to speak with Izaguirre.
“I just wanted answers from him myself,” said the mother.
She described Izaguirre as becoming weak and crying while apologizing several times to her. The mother also said he asked to speak with her child to apologize. The conversation between Izaguirre and the child’s mother was primarily in Spanish. It was video-recorded at the police department and played as evidence for the jury. A translation of the video conversation was also submitted as an exhibit and given to the jury to read.
When asked by Rigdon why she used Spanish to speak with Izaguirre at the police department, the child’s mother said she thought she was just more frustrated, which led to her primarily speaking Spanish during the conversation. She also noted that Izaguirre speaks Spanish better than English and believed that Izaguirre gravitated to using Spanish when he was more emotional.
The child’s mother said when Izaguirre spoke to her children, he used English; but when he spoke with her, they would rotate between English and Spanish.
For its third witness, the state called Melissa Stephan, a Department of Child Services worker who conducted a forensic interview with the child on March 29, 2019. In her testimony, Stephan said the child spoke very clearly during the forensic interview but did have one moment where they became anxious.
Sarah Coburn, a Fort Wayne sexual assault nurse examiner, or SANE, testified about her physical exam of the child. The exam occurred on April 2, 2019. Coburn said her role as a SANE is to collect evidence and identify any injuries.
She said there were no injuries to the child’s genitals and noted that it’s typical to have no injuries in child sexual assault cases. Coburn said the child was cooperative and quiet during the exam. In court, she read from notes she took during the exam of exact quotes the child said to her.
“He would say things like, ‘I know you want it,'” said the child’s quotes read by Coburn. “He would yell at me and call me bad words if I said stop.”
Coburn said the child told her they experienced pain during the molestations and that the activity occurred about two or three times a month. She also noted that most children brought in for SANE exams are outside of the timeframe for physical evidence to be collected. In this case, the child was outside of that timeframe.
The state’s final witness was Warsaw Police Detective Paul Heaton, who served as the lead detective in this case. Heaton said he first learned about the molestations against the child after receiving a report from Stephan. He also monitored the forensic interview between Stephan and the child and interviewed Izaguirre about what occurred.
During his interview with Heaton, Izaguirre asked to speak with the child’s mother about what happened. The video interview between Heaton and Izaguirre was submitted as evidence and played for the jury. In the video, when asked if he spoke English, Izaguirre said he “spoke a little bit.” While being read his Miranda rights, Izaguirre appeared to express confusion at times with what was being said, asking Heaton to re-phrase sentences.
When Heaton asked if Izaguirre had any sexual contact with the child, Izaguirre denied molesting the child and said that was a lie. In several instances, Izaguirre denied touching the child; at one point, he also asked where the child’s mother was at.
Later on in the video, the child’s mother is brought into the room with Izaguirre and Heaton. She relayed what Heaton was saying to Izaguirre in Spanish, which led to Izaguirre explaining what happened and providing details on what type of activity he engaged in with the child.
Heaton also told the jury that while he was searching Izaguirre’s cellphone, he found pornography.
Rigdon asked Heaton if he had the ability to read Izaguirre his Miranda rights in Spanish by downloading the translated rights and delivering them to Izaguirre in a printed form. Heaton said he could but didn’t think he needed to since his experiences with Izaguirre prior to interviewing him at the police department led him to believe that Izaguirre understood English.
Heaton said that when officers made contact with Izaguirre at his home, they received English responses and were also able to hold small-talk conversations with him in English while en route to the police department.
Following Heaton’s testimony, the state rested its case. The defense will begin its presentation of witnesses at 9:45 a.m. Thursday, April 22. The jury is also expected to enter deliberations on Thursday.