Sex assault trial underway

ALAMOSA—A jury trial enters its third day today for Adam Acosta, 40, Alamosa, who is charged with sexual assault on a child.

The jury on Tuesday heard from the child victim, who was 8 at the time of the alleged incident, both on the stand and via a videotaped interview at the Children’s Advocacy Center.

The child alleged that Acosta sexually molested her last February and at least one other time before that but not more than five times. She said Acosta threatened her not to tell anyone.

However, she told her mother after the alleged incident last February and was physically examined the day after the incident and interviewed at the advocacy center several days later.

Both the nurse who performed the sexual assault victim examination the day after the alleged incident and the victim advocate who interviewed the girl testified in court on Tuesday as part of the prosecution’s case.

District Attorney Crista Newmyer-Olsen is prosecuting the case, Deputy Public Defender Christopher Light is representing Acosta, and District Judge Michael Gonzales is presiding over the case. The 12-plus-alternate jury is comprised of six men and seven women.

Certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Sarah Herrera, RN, who stated she had probably performed sex assault exams on 40 adults and 30 children since becoming certified in SANE three years ago, testified that when she examined the alleged victim she found her to be otherwise healthy but noticed redness in her vaginal area.

The girl alleged that Acosta had stuck his hands down her pants and rubbed her private parts.
Herrera testified that she performed the examination on the girl the evening of February 5, 2016, at San Luis Valley Health, where she also serves as director of obstetrics and has worked on staff for 15 years. She received the call to perform the exam about 9 p.m. that day.

Herrera testified that she took a medical history of the child, conducted a dialogue with the child pertaining to what happened, performed a physical examination and took swabs of areas the girl said had been touched by the defendant for forensic evidence, which was sealed and provided to law enforcement.

One of the other witnesses on Tuesday was Shelly Martinez, a forensic interviewer, family advocate with Tu Casa and the Children’s Advocacy Center and the sexual assault response team coordinator for Tu Casa. She interviewed the girl on February 12 at the advocacy center where the interview could be observed by others in a separate room and could be recorded. There were coloring sheets, play dough and other items to occupy the child while she was being interviewed.

A portion of the approximately 35-minute recording was played for the jury. The victim told Martinez what had happened with Acosta and that this was not the first time, but she thought it was less than five times.

She said what he did to her made her uncomfortable and scared.

“I was scared he might hurt me somehow,” she told Martinez. “He said he would kill me and do something bad to me if I told anybody.”