Woman testifies in sexual abuse case
Witness testimony and opening statements were presented Tuesday in the trial of a former Nevada City man who is accused of sexually abusing a girl for a period of several years, starting when she was just 4 years old.
The trial of Brian Alan Hoobler, 54, who now lives in Tennessee, began Monday with jury selection. On Tuesday prosecutors laid out their case against Hoobler, bringing in the victim, now in her 20s, to testify against the defendant.
Hoobler, currently in custody in Nevada County, is facing 16 different felony charges, all tied to accusations that he sexually abused the woman from the time she was 4 up until she was around 11 years old, starting in the 1990s. The charged filed by prosecutors include multiple felony counts of aggravated sexual assault upon a child, as well as charges of forcible oral copulation and lewd acts with a child.
Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Helenaz Hill told the courtroom that the victim decided to step forward late last year to report the alleged abuse to law enforcement, opting to tell authorities after speaking with her mother.
On Tuesday the woman told jurors that the pattern of sexual assault and abuse began when Hoobler, who was partially disabled at the time from a car accident, was entrusted with her care.
She said Hoobler used threats and manipulation to keep her from telling anyone. He stopped after she threatened to report his acts around the time she turned 12.
In her opening statement to jurors, Hill described Hoobler as not just a sexual predator but as a master manipulator, who repeatedly threatened his victim in order to keep her quiet.
“He told her that if she disclosed what was happening that she would be taken away from her mother, the person whom she loved most in the world, and be moved to foster care. He told her that her mother would kill herself if this was found out,” Hill said.
Hill said Hoobler’s threats, combined with a fear of the effect that the revelations would have, convinced the woman — then a girl — to not speak up, although she confided in a couple of close friends and a relative about the abuse at various times.
But last year, in the course of a casual conversation with her mother, she could keep the truth of Hoobler’s actions secret no longer, Hill added.
In the opening statement for the defense, Deputy Public Defender Thomas Angell urged jurors not let the graphic, disturbing, and emotional nature of the case make them forget about the presumption of innocence that Hoobler has.
“It is imperative that each of you not abandon reason in a case like this,” Angell said, adding that it was “extremely difficult to hear” the allegations presented by prosecutors.
The public defender went on to say that the defense would stress what he called inconsistencies in the woman’s testimony, that he claimed would ultimately undermine the case against his client.
“You will see that core elements of the victim’s testimony change from one version of the story to the next,” Angell said.
The defense will also present evidence that Hoobler’s relationship with the woman was plagued with “animosity from the beginning of their relationship,” which Angell implied may have fueled and distorted her testimony.
Angell also refuted Hill’s characterization of Hoobler as an angry and manipulative predator, describing his client as a man who worked extremely hard in a high-profile job for a tech company as well as maintaining a career in real estate.
The trial will resume today.
Stepher Wyer is a staff writer for The Union. He can be reached at email@example.com
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