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Anderson, Spencer win rape case

Attorneys Neil Anderson and Marina Spencer scored a huge victory in Clark County Superior Court this month, winning not-guilty verdicts for a client accused of raping his stepdaughter.

If convicted the client, 57, would have likely spent the rest of his life in prison.

During closing argument of the three-day trial, Spencer emphasized that no one could corroborate the alleged victim’s account, not even the state’s witnesses.

Spencer also highlighted a quote from a state's witness, who testified the alleged victim "seemed so much more put together and not the mess you would think.”

Spencer argued to the jury this was a telling observation given the alleged victim had claimed she had been raped and molested every day for six years starting at the age of 11, yet never exhibited any signs of distress. 

Spencer also implored the jury to think logically about the alleged victim’s testimony when she said her stepfather wanted it to be known that they were together in a relationship.

“Take a second and actually think about that logically,” Spencer said. “She testified that her 40, 50-year-old stepfather wanted it to be known that he was the boyfriend of a 13, 14-year-old? He wanted everyone in their community to know he was actively raping and molesting his 13-year-old stepdaughter? And yet, not a single state’s witness can testify to this? Not a single person that was around can say “Oh yeah, (the stepfather) and (the stepdaughter) were an item back when she was 13 or 14. I knew that was highly illegal, so I called the police and CPS.”

If you take that at face value, Spencer said, and assume the alleged victim is telling the truth, then there would have been an army of witnesses testifying the stepfather introduced himself as his stepdaughter’s boyfriend.

The client was charged with four counts of rape of a child and two counts of child molestation.

The jury acquitted him on the rape charges on July 13. Jurors were unable to reach an unanimous verdict on the child molestation charges, even after deliberating for eight hours.

Rather than go to trial again on the child molestation charges, a deputy prosecutor dismissed them July 27 after the client agreed to a no-contact order with his stepdaughter.

The case had been hanging over the client’s head for more than five years.

Had he been convicted, he faced a minimum of 20 years in prison.

In 2017, his stepdaughter, then 20, reported to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office that her stepfather had raped and molested her hundreds of times.

She claimed that she was made to believe they were in love, and that the sexual abuse was known to her mother and three siblings.

A detective from the Children’s Justice Center spent several months on the case before referring it to the Clark County prosecutor’s office. Charges were filed in February 2018.

The case was assigned to a defense attorney who retired during the pandemic. It was assigned to our office in January 2022.

This was the second time it went to trial.

Anderson and Spencer first tried it in August 2022. The jury deadlocked on all counts and the judge declared a mistrial.

At each trial, the client’s wife and children said they never noticed any suspicious or concerning behavior between the client and the alleged victim.

During cross-examination of the alleged victim, Anderson repeatedly confronted her with previous contradictory statements she had made in earlier interviews. The alleged victim also incorrectly stated the location of a mole on the client’s body, and claimed the client had repeatedly introduced himself to her friends and co-workers as her "boyfriend” – a claim that wasn’t corroborated by the state’s witnesses. The alleged victim also contradicted herself on the approximate date of the first act of sexual intercourse.

The case was particularly frustrating for Anderson and Spencer because a fact they felt cast doubt on the alleged victim’s claims was ruled inadmissible. Their client has genital herpes; the alleged victim does not. Prior to the first trial, a judge said he would consider allowing the jury to hear those facts if an expert could testify about transmission rates. Spencer tracked down such an expert for the second trial, an emergency room doctor with expertise in sexually transmitted diseases, but after a pretrial hearing the judge still said it was irrelevant. 

Tags: criminal law, not guilty, Clark County, sex offense, Neil Anderson, Marina Spencer

Jeffrey D. Barrar, P.S.: Vancouver Defenders Jeffrey D. Barrar, P.S.
Vancouver Defenders