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Mother testifies in Erbacher hearing


Carol Ferguson

The mother of convicted child molester Justin Erbacher testified Friday at his hearing seeking a new trial. Melody Erbacher is also the adoptive mother of the victims who now say Justin Erbacher did not abuse them.

The defense wants a new trial for Erbacher, 24. He was convicted in August, and found guilty of nine felony counts of child abuse which four victims said happened over a period of years.

The prosecution says the girls told the truth at the trial when they accused Erbacher.

Since the trial, three victims now live with Melody Erbacher-Adcock in the Midwest. Prosecutors played a recording of a phone call between the mother and her son in jail.

In the call, the mother can be heard complaining Erbacher didn't get a fair trial. "You're a victim of circumstance, you're the fall guy for everybody," she's heard saying. Prosecutors say that call was Aug. 26.

The mother says it was Aug. 31 that one of the girls came to her, and said Justin Erbacher had never molested her. "I was shocked," the mother told the court.

"You did not try to influence the children?" asked defense attorney Michael Webb. "Correct," said Melody Erbacher

The mother says in a short period of time, the two other adopted sisters also came forward to say they had never been abused by Erbacher.

But, prosecutors wonder if the girls were influenced to change their testimony, after finding out Justin Erbacher could face a very long sentence.

One of the girls was still on the witness stand Friday morning. "Did your mother ask you to just say Justin didn't molest you?" asked Webb. "No," the girl responded. "Mom isn't like that."

All three girls now say it was only the father -- Stephan Erbacher -- who molested them. In their testimony, the girls have told the court they were confused about the molestation. One girl said she realized it was only the father after looking at pictures.

Stephen Erbacher killed himself as the investigation started into his actions.

Prosecutors asked Melody Erbacher, didn't she know Justin Erbacher had been investigated for child molestation in 1999. Melody Erbacher said she was aware of that, and that "someone came out to talk to" one of the girls.

Prosecutors also showed the mother a report from August from one of the girl's psychologists where the child told the counselor if she "had not told anybody, he would keep on doing it."

Several more witnesses are expected in the hearing, then the prosecution and defense will make their arguments to the judge -- who will decide if Erbacher should get a new trial.

Erbacher has been set to be sentenced at the end of December for his conviction in August.

2008 Dec 12