By Ben Lane, TSB Staff
Disclaimer: The following story from Wednesday’s public testimony in David Allen Russell’s sexual assault trial contains witnesses’ descriptions of alleged misconduct by the former McKinney chiropractor. Some of these allegations are extremely graphic in nature but are also vital to the case being heard this week at the Collin County Courthouse.
A jury heard from eight prosecution witnesses Wednesday as former McKinney chiropractor David Allen Russell’s criminal trial on 13 charges of sexual misconduct continued into its third day.
Collin County prosecutors continued laying out the state’s case in front of Judge John Roach at the Collin County Courtroom as Russell is accused of wrongdoing against five former patients.
Three of the alleged victims were among the witnesses in court on Wednesday, though the court has ordered that the victims and their family members are not to be named. Therefore, the victims will be referred to in this TownSquareBuzz.com report as Victims A, B, and C.
Wednesday’s testimony began with the first victim (Victim A), who also testified late Tuesday as well. She testified on Tuesday that Russell inserted his fingers into her vagina during treatment sessions.
On Wednesday, she continued with her testimony, stating that she continued to see him after the alleged assault because she trusted Russell and because she spoke to Suzan Taylor, the owner of Taylor Dance Center and Russell’s girlfriend, about the event and trusted Suzan as well. She also said that she would tell Russell that she was “on her period” during their appointments so he would not try to touch her inappropriately again. She said that he also touched her breasts during the exams and commented on her nipples as well. She said that she did not talk to anyone at the time of the alleged attack because she “didn’t want to get in trouble.”
Once Collin County Prosecutor Shannon Miller was done with her initial questioning, Victim A was cross-examined by Russell’s defense attorney Todd Shapiro. Shapiro questioned the timeline of events and questioned why Victim A returned to see Russell after the alleged attack.
She also said that Russell touched her inappropriately at her family’s housewarming party in November 2009. Under re-examination by Miller, Victim A stated that she was having trouble with her groin but couldn’t afford to see Russell in his office, so he offered to work on her at the party. He and Suzan attended the party as guests of Victim A’s mother. She said that Russell massaged her groin muscle in the office at the house and put his finger inside her vagina during that treatment.
After Victim A finished her testimony, Scott Parker took the witness stand. Parker is the Director of Enforcement for the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners, the organization that provides licenses for chiropractors in Texas. Parker testified that he worked with the McKinney Police Department throughout their investigation.
He said that he passed his information along to the board of the organization that suspended Russell’s license in November 2011. Shapiro questioned why Russell’s license had not been revoked, because revocation is an option in these types of cases. Parker said that revoking Russell’s license is still an option pending the outcome of this case and that Russell’s license was not previously revoked because Russell was suspended, therefore he no longer posed a threat to his patients.
Then Lisa Martinez took the stand. Martinez is a forensic interviewer at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County. She conducted the forensic interview with Victim A. She said that as a forensic interviewer, she’s trained to not ask leading types of questions and is a neutral party in investigations of this kind. She testified as to the reasons a victim might return to someone who perpetrated a crime against them. She said, “When it’s someone that they know, love and trust, that does happen. The relationship is not just about the abuse. It’s about the trust, too.”
After Martinez testified, Nancy McNeil took the stand. McNeil is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Children’s Medical Center and works on victims of sexual abuse. She testified that with situations like Victim A’s, “You don’t normally see physical signs with a delayed outcry.”
Next on the witness stand was the mother of Victim B. She testified to taking her daughter for treatment by Russell in 2011. Her daughter was 13 at the time. She said that she would not accompany Victim B back to Russell’s office after the first couple visits because “we felt comfortable” with Russell and that “it didn’t seem like something that I needed to be there for every single minute of it.”
She testified that on one occasion when she was unable to drive her daughter to Russell’s office, her mother (Victim B’s grandmother) took Victim B to the appointment. She said that after that appointment, Victim B asked her “Is Dr. Russell allowed to touch me? Is he allowed to touch me down there?” She said that Victim B pointed to her groin area.
She said that she tried to ask her daughter more about the incident but that her daughter would not give her any more information. She said she told her daughter “if something happened, then we could go to the police.”
“I wanted to really understand with what she was telling me,” she said.
She said that Victim B “shut down” and so she left her alone about it and tried to talk to her about it again that night without learning any more details.
She said that she continued to take her daughter to see Russell because she gave him the benefit of doubt, but regrets it in hindsight. She said that at the time, “These people (Russell, Suzan Taylor and the dancers at Taylor Dance Center) were like family to us. I didn’t feel like I had what I needed to make an upheaval in all of these people’s lives.”
Her daughter then took the stand to provide details of the 2011 incident that caused her to ask her mother if Russell was allowed to touch her “down there.” The girl, who is now 15 but was 13 at the time of the alleged attack, smiled at Russell and waved to him when she took the stand. She said, about Russell, “ I’m a firm believer that we all make mistakes. I don’t see any reason why I should hate him.”
In her testimony, she said that during one appointment, he moved her shorts and made her uncomfortable. She said he put his hand down her shorts from the top in an effort to reach a muscle that connects “in through there”. While he was moving his hand down, he “skimmed my restroom parts.” She said that he had never come close to contacting that part of her body before but that the contact made her nervous and “her private part moved a little bit.”
She said that she was nervous afterwards and “maybe a little bit in shock.” She didn’t tell her mother, but did call Victim A, whom she thought of as a big sister from their time at Taylor Dance Center. She said it “felt like telling an older sister instead of her mom.”
She also said she initially didn’t want to tell anyone else about it because she “wanted it to be over” and that “I was afraid that people at school were going to find out or not want to be my friend.”
Under cross-examination by Shapiro, she said that Russell’s finger did not penetrate her vagina but that it “brushed it.” She said later that the incident “didn’t affect me as much as other people think it did. I wish it was over.”
Next on the stand was Janetta Michaels, who is the supervisor of forensic interviewers at Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County. Michaels performed the forensic interview of Victim B. She testified that Victim B was very reserved in their interview to the point of being shut down. “She was almost physically trying to keep it in,” Michaels said.
She said that eventually McKinney Detective Techia Davis was able to speak to Victim B and was able to get her to admit what allegedly happened in Russell’s office. Michaels said that Victim B was very protective of the entire Taylor Dance family and said, “If there is loyalty to the alleged offender, that is another hurdle that we have to overcome.”
The final witness of the day was a 35-year-old woman who came forward with charges against Russell after he was initially arrested in 2011. Victim C said that she sought treatment from Russell because she had hurt her hip and iliotibial band (IT band). She said she is an avid cyclist and these injuries were preventing her from cycling when she saw Russell in 2011.
She said that in her first of six visits with Russell that he commented on how pretty she was. In later appointments, she claimed Russell said that he liked her “milky, white skin” and that he “had a fetish for white skin.”
In that initial appointment, she said that she wore jeans and that Russell pulled down her jeans to work on her hip and IT band, which runs down the leg outside of the thigh. In her subsequent appointments, she said she wore athletic pants so that Russell could work on her muscles without needing to take off her pants. In one of those appointments, she said that he pulled down the back of her pants while she was lying down and commented on her tattoo.
She also said that Russell told her to wear shorts to the next appointment so he could treat the IT band. She said he tried to reach her IT band by putting his hands in through her pants from both the bottom and the top of her pants but she said that made her uncomfortable so she decided to wear shorts to the next appointment.
At that appointment, she said that Russell put his hand up her shorts and was “rubbing on her bottom.” She said that he then bent her legs and began to rub her inner thighs and contacted her vagina. She said he then moved her shorts and underwear to the side and stroked her thighs again. She said he then put his finger inside of her vagina. She said he “made a comment about looking for a muscle that was inside her thigh.”
“I kind of froze and I didn’t know what to do so I stayed,” she said. She said she could feel his finger inside of her and that she was “shocked and wasn’t really sure what to do.”
She said she contacted friends and two attorneys after this incident but decided not to go to the police until she saw that Russell had been arrested on the initial charges. ”I didn’t want it to happen to any other children and I knew what happened to me,” she said.
Shapiro questioned what Victim C told the police during her initial interview because he said that during the interview, Victim C said “his finger did not fully insert but was very, very close.”
While on the witness stand, she testified that McKinney detectives made her aware of the legal definition of penetration was and that this incident constituted penetration in the eyes of the law.
She said she was reluctant to come forward before seeing Russell’s arrest on TV, because, “ I saw it on the news and knew it didn’t just happen to me”
“I was scared and knew it was my word versus his word.”
Victim C was then released and testimony was completed for the day. The trial recommences at 8:15 a.m. on Thursday at the Collin County Courthouse.