Failed to Death: An Investigative Series

November 27, 2012



Opening statements, testimony starts in sexual assault trial

March 6, 2011

Reid Wright
Journal Staff Writer

The trial of a local man accused of inappropriately touching a young girl commenced Thursday with opening statements and testimony.

District Attorney Russell Wasley told the jury a story of when the girl allegedly told her father she was touched by 30-year-old Trever James Morrill after the father became suspicious and questioned her.

“She began to cry like she had never cried before,” Wasley said. “She curled into a fetal position.”

The girl had previously begun harming herself by picking at her face and ears, Wasley said. After her alleged confession to her father, the self-harming abruptly stopped.

Representing Morrill, Attorney Christopher Decker fired back, saying the girl gave the alleged confession only after being asked repeatedly by an emotionally upset father.

“This suspicious and angry father asked her over and over again,” Decker said, alleging the father told investigators he questioned her for more than an hour.

The alleged victim’s father testified Thursday, saying he had questioned the girl for approximately 45 minutes, although he was unsure of the exact duration. He said he asked the girl if Morrill touched her and she said yes.

Decker accused him of having preconceived notions about what happened to the girl and asking her about it until she told him what he wanted to hear.

“That’s the last thing any father would want to hear,” he replied.

During a police interview Morrill repeatedly denied touching the girl. Wasley alleged Morrill did say that girls that age do not lie about such things and something must have happened.

Decker told the jury the alleged victim’s statements were inconsistent.

“This is a case about an innocent man accused of something unspeakable,” Decker said.

The start of the trial was delayed when additional evidence was discovered at the last minute. Both prosecution and defense said they were unaware of the existence of the evidence.

District Judge Todd Plewe ruled there were multiple violations on the part of the DA’s office for not disclosing the evidence, but said he believes the violations were unintentional. He informed the jury of the violations, saying he wanted to avoid jury speculation as to the reason for the delay.

Morrill was charged with an additional pattern of abuse charge of class three felony of sexual assault on a child in a hearing on Jan. 18.

Wasley had requested the amended charge in a district court hearing Tuesday, saying the victim alleged in a forensic interview that the man touched her at least four times.

Decker objected to Wasley amending charges filed by the previous district attorney, Mac Myers. Further, Decker argued the charges should not be amended so late in the process.

Plewe sided with Wasley and granted the amendment.

The mother of the alleged victim testified in a preliminary hearing in September 2010, saying her daughter told her Morrill touched her and disclosed the alleged molestation to her after a forensic interview.

A social service worker who interviewed the girl also testified at the preliminary hearing, saying the girl said Morrill touched her and pointed to the genital area of an anatomical illustration.

Morrill is not in custody at this time.

Reach Reid Wright at reidw@cortezjournal.com.


Mancos Valley-Mesa Verde Country Balloon and Art Festival

July 20, 2010

Mesa Verde Country® takes flight this summer with balloons ascending and floating over the beautiful Mancos Valley during the 6th Annual Mancos Valley-Mesa Verde Country® Balloon & Art Festival.

Proceeds to benefit the Child Advocacy Center.



More parents educate their children about child sexual abuse.

July 19, 2010

In 1984 29% of parents educated the chidren about child sexual abuse, by 1992 that number increased to 59%.


New Report Reveals Public Views on Child Sexual Abuse

July 19, 2010

National survey measures public views on child sexual abuse

Northampton, Mass. — (July 15, 2010) — Stop It Now!, a national leader in child sexual abuse prevention, today released national survey results which document that U.S. adults are not only aware and concerned about child sexual abuse, but are also quite informed about where risks lie. Clear majorities also agreed that people who sexually abuse children should get specialized treatment and that treatment can help them stop abusing.

Key findings include:

  • 95% of adults surveyed believed that children who are sexually abused are most likely to be abused by someone they know.
  • 64% agreed that many children who are sexually abused are abused by other children or teens.
  • 68% agreed that some people who sexually abuse children would like to get help to stop.
  • 53% believed child sexual abuse is a major problem in their communities.
  • 96% agreed that those in prison for sexually offending children should get treatment.



Group tackles truancy

July 17, 2010

Kimberly Benedict
Journal Staff Writer

Preparations are underway for Montezuma County’s first truancy summit.

Scheduled for Aug. 12, the summit is designed to unite stakeholders in the community to focus on educational neglect and truancy with the goal of creating an action plan for community intervention.


More parents are educating their children about abuse

July 16, 2010

A 1984 study revealed 29% of caregivers made an effort educate their Children about Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and by 1992 to that number had increased to 59%.

Still the main focus was often on stranger perpetration which only accounts for 5-15% of CSA. In 1992 35% o f caregivers mentioned relatives as possible perpetrators and 22% mentioned parents as possible perpetrators. Both studies show that parents that had their own CSA experienced were more likely to discuss the topic with their children.

In a perfect world all parents would educate their children on CSA and focus on  parents and relatives as being potential perpetrators, so in the event a child is sexually abused by someone they know, they feel they can tell a trusted adult and the abuse can be stopped.