Sex abuse case goes to jury
“A monster.” “A Jekyll and Hyde.” “A liar.” “A manipulator.” “A predator.”
Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Helenaz Hill used those words Tuesday when delivering her closing argument against 54-year-old Brian Hoobler, who is facing life in prison if convicted on allegations that he repeatedly sexually assaulted a juvenile over a period of almost 10 years.
As attorneys for both sides in the case gave their closing arguments Tuesday, Hill laid out the prosecution’s case against Hoobler, arguing to jurors that witness testimony, including testimony by the alleged victim herself, pointed overwhelmingly toward guilt.
Hoobler’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Thomas Angell, argued that there were key inconsistencies in the documented statements that the victim had made to investigators, after she had first decided to report Hoobler’s actions to police in 2020.
The jury did not reach a verdict after closing arguments, and will continue deliberations today.
Hoobler, a former Nevada County resident who now lives in Tennessee, has been on trial in Nevada County Superior Court since June 15 on 16 different counts of sexual abuse, including aggravated sexual assault of a minor, forcible lewd acts with a child, and forcible oral copulation with a child.
The female victim in the case, now in her 20s, testified herself during the trial, alleging that Hoobler sexually molested her in the 1990s and continuing into the early 2000s. She alleges that she was 4 years old when Hoobler first molested her, and that the abuse continued unabated until she was around 11 or 12 years old.
If convicted on all counts, Hoobler could spend the rest of his life behind bars, attorneys have said.
Both the defense and prosecutors have characterized the case as testimony dependent, as the alleged abuse occurred so long ago as to preclude the use of more direct evidence — such as DNA, a medical examination of the victim, or other forms of evidence often used in sexual assault/abuse cases. Other than the victim herself, some of those who testified in the case included the victim’s mother, a couple of the victim’s close confidants with knowledge of the alleged abuse, and multiple expert witnesses. Hoobler testified as well.
Hoobler’s defense attorney in his closing arguments said the victim’s story changed.
“The core details of a testimony need to be consistent for someone to be believed…and her story does not stay the same…She is lying,” Angell said, noting variations in statements made by the victim to investigators when she originally reported the allegations against Hoobler to law enforcement.
Angell also argued that the victim despised Hoobler for other reasons, and that her testimony against him was maliciously motivated.
Additionally, Angell said the victim had told people about the alleged abuse at the time. None of these adults apparently took her allegations seriously.
“Ms. Doe believed that Mr. Hoobler was responsible for all the pain and suffering in her life…she’s had all this time to get angrier and angrier about this over time, and she ultimately wanted revenge,” Angell said.
Hill countered that the defense’s account of the supposedly adversarial history between the victim and Hoobler was unfounded and based off Hoobler’s “lies”about what had actually happened. She argued that it made no sense for the victim to wait nearly 20 years after Hoobler’s alleged crimes before coming forward with a made-up story documenting such a specific pattern of abuse.
“What Mr. Hoobler is doing is he’s exaggerating and he’s lying,” Hill said. “He’s willing to make up outlandish lies to make it seem like she was this angry, hostile child … when there’s no credible evidence to that effect.”
“He is a two-faced Jekyll and Hyde … a monster, who was sexually abusing her on a regular basis, and who has showed a complete lack of remorse and lack of respect for the results of his actions.”
Hill also disputed Angell’s arguments as to inconsistencies in the victim’s testimony. Victims of sexual abuse often have trouble recalling the events surrounding the abuse due to trauma, Hill said, pointing to statements made to this effect by an expert on child abuse who testified during trial.
“Someone testifying in front of a jury, in front of 15 strangers about sexual abuse is a very hard and uncomfortable process,” Hill said. “Sure, the victim was having trouble recalling some things, but sit back and think, and ask yourself— is it reasonable for someone to have trouble remembering all these things in a case like this?”
Hill asked jurors to contrast what she characterized as the credible, legitimate, and graphically detailed testimony of the victim about what she had endured with Hoobler’s testimony in his own defense, which Hill argued was riddled with falsehoods.
“Ten years from now when you sit in your dining room having dinner and evaluate in your own head if you made the right decision in this case, and ask yourself, ‘Did I?’ You want to be able to say, ‘Damn right, I did.’ That’s conviction.”
Stephen Wyer is a staff writer for The Union. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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