GONZALES — The victim testifying Wednesday in the trial of a former police officer charged with indecent behavior with a juvenile said the fact her alleged abuser was a policeman made her situation even more difficult.
“How did you feel about his being a police officer?” asked Assistant District Attorney Joni Buquoi, of the 23rd Judicial District Court.
“Not good. Once I told police I was afraid, they could use that for leniency” for the abuser, the victim said.
Wednesday was the first day in what is expected to be a two-day trial for Owen Ockman, 35, of 4216 Causeway Road, Gonzales, who was indicted by a grand jury in July 2013 on indecent behavior with juveniles.
Ockman was charged with the offense over the time period of May 2009 through August 2011, years when he was a Sorrento police officer, according to witness statements.
He was named Sorrento’s outstanding officer in 2008 by the Knights of Columbus, according to the Gonzales Weekly Citizen newspaper.
Ockman, who is married and has two children, was also a reserve officer with the Gonzales Police Department, according to testimony in the trial presided over by Judge Jessie LeBlanc.
Buquoi called several witnesses to the stand Wednesday, beginning with the victim, now 21, who said the abuse began in her high school years, when she was about 13 or 14, at the defendant’s home. The Advocate, by policy, does not reveal the identities of sexual abuse victims without their consent.
On several occasions, she testified, Ockman touched her underneath and on top of her clothes, pulled her pants down and molested her.
The victim said that in her senior year of high school, she wrote a letter to her mother, telling her about the abuse.
The mother, also a witness for the prosecution, testified that at first she didn’t know who to report the crime to, because of Ockman’s work in law enforcement.
“We had to find out where to call, where do you find that out? Because he was a police officer. How do you know you can trust anybody?” the mother said.
She said she first called the State Police, who directed her to the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Dr. Neha Mehta, the medical director of the Audrey Hepburn CARE (Children at Risk Evaluation) Center of Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, testified as an expert witness that it’s not unusual for children who have been sexually abused to wait several years to report the crime.
Children can feel “very shamed and disgusted at what has occurred and believe it’s their fault,” Mehta said.
Mehta said the victim in this case was referred to the Audrey Hepburn CARE Center by the Ascension Parish District Attorney’s Office for an evaluation.
“My diagnosis (for the victim) was child sexual abuse,” Mehta said.
On Thursday, defense attorney John Gutierrez will have the opportunity to call his own witnesses.