WENATCHEE — A man charged with child rape cross-examined his alleged victim as he represented himself on the first day of trial Wednesday.
Jeremy Douglas Pedersen, charged in Chelan County Superior Court with first-degree child rape and first-degree child molestation, is accused of first touching the girl inappropriately and later forcing her to perform oral sex in 2011 or 2012 when she was about 6 years old.
With a service dog named Hank at her feet, the girl struggled to speak as she recounted the incidents in response to questions from Deputy Prosecutor Julia Hartnell.
"It felt like forever but it was like three minutes," the girl said of the second incident in response to a question from Hartnell.
Pedersen was emotional throughout the two-hour proceeding, weeping at times during his opening statement and as he listened to the girl testify.
The girl brought the accusations to authorities in 2018 after she got into trouble at school. Not directly related to her school troubles, she said she was self-harming and wanted to speak out about Pedersen. She told her grandmother first and then a cousin.
Pedersen, 46, was arrested in December 2018. He was released from custody in August 2019 after posting $25,000 bond, but then arrested in January 2020 for possession of methamphetamine.
In May 2019, Pedersen elected to represent himself at trial. It's not clear from court records why he chose to forego a public defender, a decision he was warned about time and again Wednesday by Judge Lesley Allan, who told him he'd be held to almost the same standard as an attorney. Attorney Brian Chase sits by his side at trial as stand-by counsel, offering guidance when needed.
Pedersen's lack of courtroom knowledge was apparent throughout the first day of trial, including an exchange prompted by testimony by the girl as she detailed portions of an interview she gave to Wenatchee Police detective Steve Evitt. Petersen raised his hand and said, "Objection."
"What's your objection?" Allan replied.
"Uh, I don't know," Pedersen said and leaned toward Chase to discuss the objection.
In his opening statement, Pedersen was adamant the girl has been untruthful with authorities.
"The evidence is going to show clearly over and over and over and over again that these are all lies," Pedersen said.
Pedersen's cross-examination of the girl didn't include any long exchanges or back and forths. His attempts to question the girl were often interrupted by objections from Deputy Prosecutor Julia Hartnell or so he could confer with Chase.
The girl was calm throughout the cross-examination, which mostly consisted of Pedersen asking her to confirm statements she made in an interview with Evitt.
Pedersen attempted to discredit the girl's testimony by challenging her memory of the residences where the assaults allegedly took place. The girl's recollection of who lived where and when was wrong, Pedersen said.
Nearing the bottom of a stack of papers containing evidence, interviews and notes, Pedersen asked Allan to continue the girl's testimony to Thursday so he could confer with Chase. She denied the motion.
With no further questions, the girl was dismissed and the trial will continue Thursday.