Editor’s note: This article contains graphic content.
BONHAM — Sergio Maldonado Facundo listened through earphones Wednesday afternoon as his attorney Lee Salas put on the first witnesses in their case. Salas is working hard to keep Facundo for spending the rest of his life in prison. Facundo is charged with one count of continuous sexual assault of a child under 14 years of age and has pleaded not guilty to the charge in the 336th state District Court.
While this case, and its numerous companion cases charging similar crimes committed against other children in the same home, deals with sexual abuse, the whole thing started on Sept. 12, 2015 when Joel Noria, 12, was struck and killed by an SUV as he chased a ball across the road in front of his family’s house in Trenton.
Noemi Isobel Noria, the child’s 41-year-old mother; her husband Pedro Noria, 28; and her son, Nelson Rodriguez, 19, all now face charges for sexually abusing the younger children in the family.
On Tuesday, the 11-year-old boy at the heart of this case told jurors Facundo abused him on three different occasions in three different locations over a period of months when he was between the ages of 8 and 9 years old.
But that wasn’t the young boy’s most shocking allegation. He said the people who were supposed to protect him the most, his mother and stepfather, gave him to Facundo on several different occasions, even tying the boy to a bed and covering his mouth with duct tape and allowing Facundo to sodomize the child.
On Wednesday morning, Noemi Noria appeared in the 336th with her attorney and said she refused to answer on grounds that she might incriminate herself when asked questions about the allegations her son has made against her and Facundo.
Shortly after that, prosecutor Don Hoover called two women to the stand who have been trying to help Noria’s young boy put his life back together.
Dr. Kelly Gilleland said she works with the boy every day at the treatment facility where he was sent because he had been acting out sexually in both his aunt’s home and his foster home. Gilleland said the boy has come a long way in the past few months, but the severity of the abuse he suffered means he has a long way to go. She said the program he is in is for those who have been abused and for those who abuse others; the young boy is in both programs. The programs are supposed to take a year to complete, she said, but it is likely the boy will spend much more time there than that.
Gilleland said the boy suffers disorganized attachment disorder because the people who were supposed to love him hurt him. He could never tell when he looked to them, Gilleland said, which persona — the loving parent or the monster — was going to respond. Gilleland said the staff has to help the boy unpack all of that pain and work through it if he is to have any chance at going forward with a life. The therapist said the boy is conflicted when it comes to his mother. On the one hand, he loves her. On the other hand, he never wants to go back to her. He also suffers from bereavement disorder, and blames himself for his little brother’s death.
“He told Joel to go get the ball,” the therapist explained, “so he thinks it is his fault. The staff tries to make him see that the adults who were supposed to be watching the children are responsible and not him, but it hasn’t relieved his pain.
Jurors who watched the young boy curse at the defense attorney on Tuesday spent hours Wednesday listening to how much calmer the child was when questioned about his mother and Facundo than he might have been.
The 12 people who will decide whether Facundo is guilty of causing the young boy’s pain also heard from a sexual assault nurse examiner who testified the little boy’s anus showed signs of having been repeatedly violated. She said there was nothing that would prove who had hurt the boy, only that he had been assaulted.
With the help of an interpreter, Salas put on his first witness of the trial shortly before the day ended. Martine Garcia Rodriquez said he worked at the metal works shop in Trenton where Facundo and the Norias worked. Facundo, he said, got him the job. The boy’s allegations about being abused at the shop took center stage again as Salas questioned Rodriguez about photos of that building that he said show the boy’s story doesn’t hold up.
Rodriquez said anyone who doesn’t work at the shop has to go in the front and talk to the office staff to get in. He also said Facundo does not work in an office, use a computer or even type. Rodriquez said his friend can barely read, even in Spanish, adding fuel to Salas’ contention that his client wouldn’t have been in an office in that building waiting for the Norias to bring them their son to abuse.
The case is expected to continue at 9 a.m. Thursday.