MARIPOSA - Emotional testimony from the alleged victims of William Terry MacDonald’s systematic and generational child molestation marked the beginning of his criminal trial. Jurors began hearing from the victims on April 8.
MacDonald, 64, of Hornitos, has been awaiting trial in the Mariposa County Jail since he was arrested last summer. He was originally charged with 17 felonies, with special circumstances for multiple victims and substantial sexual contact. The crimes were reported to have happened from December, 1991 to December, 2008. There are two victims named in the complaint.
Yet another victim who is not part of the formal complaint also testified that MacDonald and his son had molested her for years, from the time she was about 7- years-old until age 15.
She testified that she reported the abuse to the sheriff’s office in 1992, only to be picked up by her mother and step-brother and returned to MacDonald’s home. The following day, the victim recanted, and she said MacDonald never touched her again.
Her step-brother, who she said had previously molested her as a child, was furious when she reported his father’s crimes. He yelled at her all the way back to Hornitos, screaming that the family would lose “everything” including the 472- acre ranch on which they lived.
The 33-year-old woman was reduced to tears through much of her testimony, explaining how the abuse escalated through the years. What began as touching and oral copulation culminated in intercourse beginning in the seventh grade and continuing two or three times a week by the time she was in high school.
At one point, she said, a family friend walked into her parents’ bedroom while the abuse was occurring. She said their eyes met, but he did nothing to help her. “He said, ‘oh, sorry,’ and closed the door.”
As a teen, the victim said she would fight MacDonald’s advances, asking why this was happening to her. “He would say he wanted to show me how to treat a man, what to do when I was married,” she testified.
MacDonald tried to tell her to relax, that women “enjoyed” the attention. “I’m not a woman,” she told him. “I didn’t like it.” She said she told MacDonald she hated him. He responded, “He said, ‘but I love you.'”
When she finally did report the crime to law enforcement and was returned home, MacDonald told her she would be placed in a foster home, as would her younger sister. He asked her what he could do to convince her to take back the claim. “I said I want you to leave me alone,” she said. The abuse stopped there.
Neither of the MacDonald men has been charged in connection with the allegations because the statute of limitations has run out.
The first victim, who is now 24-years-old, testified that she never intended to come forward with the allegations against her father. She said she only did so after learning that her nieces may have also been the victims of the same kind of abuse.
Prosecutors played a tape recorded voice mail that MacDonald’s son, Lance, Sr., had left for her right before the elder MacDonald was arrested. The tape help corroborate the claim that the victim was dissuaded from ever reporting the alleged crimes.
“Hey you need to call Dad and talk to him, no matter what,” Lance MacDonald, Sr. said. It was wrought with obscenities, but basically indicated that the victim would cause the entire family to lose everything. “Jail is not the answer,” he said. “I hope you’re smart enough to (expletive deleted) make a phone call and talk to him. Dad don’t need to lose his (expletive deleted) job, his career, all his pension, everything.”
The victim had previously testified that she had suffered the same kind of abuse for years, but never told anyone. The details of the molestation were strikingly similar to those outlined by the second victim.
Under cross examination of both victims, MacDonald’s defense attorney indicated that the women were conspiring with their mother because she and MacDonald were going through a nasty divorce. Jeffrey Tenenbaum intimated that the whole thing revolved around money and the fact that MacDonald had left their mother in favor of his first wife.
In a particularly brutal barrage on Tuesday, Tenenbaum peppered the witness with accusations that she was just making the whole thing up, especially in light of the fact that she had moved back to the MacDonald home after she divorced, taking her two daughters with her, thereby exposing them to possible abuse. “You didn’t spend much time trying to keep yourself out of Bill MacDonald’s home,” Tenenbaum said to the victim.
She said she had no where else to go and had asked for her mother’s help. She said the girls were never left alone with MacDonald.
Tenenbaum persisted, jumping from his seat and pointing at the witness, trying to get her to admit the claims were calculated revenge for the divorce. “Around the time Bill is seeing (his ex-wife,) everybody starts talking about Bill touching people in the family,” he said.
The prosecution rested its case around 11 a.m. on Wednesday. The defense is expected to begin calling witnesses on Thursday.