Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Expert Witness Testimony: The Fallout

by: Randy Garsee

This is a follow-up to the KTEN exclusive report regarding expert witness testimony.

In February, we told you about an expert witness who has testified in hundreds of sexual assault cases in courtrooms across the area. For now, the expert is no longer allowed to testify in new cases in Grayson or Fannin counties.

This all happened because a local defense attorney discovered she lied, under oath, that she was certified by the Texas Attorney General's Office in her specialty.

As for the newest developments, Don Bailey, Sherman criminal defense attorney says, "She's still testifying and she's supposed to be testifying in Oklahoma next month and that's sad."

Bailey is referring to the expert testimony of Carolyn Ridling. She was employed as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE, at Texoma Medical Center in Denison.

Bailey says Ridling perjured herself, on the stand last year, by claiming she was certified as a SANE nurse by the Attorney General of Texas. "Number one," Bailey says, "She lied about her certification."

Bailey acquired an affidavit from the attorney general that said, "Upon review of our records, I show that Carolyn Ridling's SANE certification expired as of 4/18/04."

"I haven't found a case yet where she told the whole truth," Bailey says.

At the time of our report in February, 2008, the District Attorneys of Grayson and Fannin Counties said Ridling would not testify again in new cases. Grayson County District Attorney Joe Brown sent out a memo to local defense attorneys which stated, "Our investigation reveals that Ms. Ridling has not been certified as a SANE nurse examiner since April of 2004."

At that time, Brown said, "I feel the credibility issue is such that we've asked that she not perform new examinations on children."

And Glaser added, "And we're going back and looking at the cases she's testified to. Some of those were appealed. Some of them, maybe not. I just don't know at this point. But we'll look because we want to be fair."

So what has happened since our report aired? Grayson County District Attorney Joe Brown declined to confirm or deny whether cases where Carolyn Ridling testified were being reviewed. He told this reporter quote: "I will not deal with you."

But Fannin County District Attorney Richard Glaser says he is still considering a grand jury investigation into the matter. He told me that right now he's waiting on more information.

Meanwhile, attorney Don Bailey isn't letting it go. "I received quite a few phone calls from investigators, I received phone calls from attorneys, mostly in Oklahoma. I've also been retained on a couple of cases."

Based on the case of Kenneth Haupert, Jr, he is pursuing Carolyn Ridling and her employer, Texoma Medical Center. "Mr. Haupert was charged with aggravated sexual assault on a child. He was found not guilty on August of 2006. Because he was found not guilty we are planning on bringing a civil action against Ms. Ridling and TMC, her employer."

Bailey adds, "She (Ridling) also lied about what she found. She took a bunch of pictures and said there was trauma to different parts of the body. A doctor came in behind her and testified there was no trauma."

Bailey hopes his pursuit will change things, at least for Grayson County. "As far as the future of this county, I hope, is that they'll bring in people that are experts and can testify truthfully in court. I think that's what people expect and that's what they deserve."

We requested an interview with Carolyn Ridling through her employer, TMC, but was told she declined the offer. She is still employed there as an RN, But is no longer involved with the SANE program.

For KTEN News
Randy Garsee

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