VIII. Glimpsing The Truth

At first, as if through a glass darkly.  But a lot of important things are like that.

Between the hospital record and Adrian, I could now account for much of Sephora’s time in the day leading up to the robbery, something Sephora was unable to do for reasons that were now obvious.  Specifically, I knew where she was and more or less what she was doing between roughly 9 AM until maybe 5 or 6 PM on December 8th.  From Adrian, I could also account for the period from roughly midnight on.  What I could not determine was how Sephora wound up passed out in the back of Mechal Fuoco’s car around midnight, and where she had been or what she had been doing for the roughly six hour period before that.

In theory, of course, it should be enough for my purposes to show that she was passed out and not involved in the robbery itself, but in reality that’s not all there is to it.  When you try a case – and as a trial lawyer you must always be thinking about the trial – your evidence has to support a coherent story that a jury can believe.  Because the criminal defendant is a disfavored litigant, you must overcome skepticism.  Consider that in this case, my own skepticism had to be overcome – and I was Sephora’s lawyer, predisposed to that.  A jury has the opposite predisposition.  So that six hour gap had to be filled in, somehow.

I got a bunch of Sephora’s medical records in the days leading up to the Grand Jury appearance.  I had done quite a bit of personal injury work.  I was used to reviewing medical records.

One thing that immediately appeared even more puzzling in retrospect after my interview with Adrian was Sephora’s emphatic assertions that Eric Harder had never been in her car, that she did not know him “…at all, whatsoever”.  This was false, and from Adrian’s account it seemed that Sephora knew it was false, yet in every other respect the interview with Adrian led me to conclude that Sephora had been largely honest with me, if ultimately mistaken or misguided in what she thought she knew.  Except this bit about Harder.

I took the medical records home and began reviewing them.  There were quite a few over a one year period.  I am always struck by how often many young women seem to go to the doctor.  I thought there might be clues that would help me fill in the six hour gap.  The Grand Jury appearance was in less than 48 hours and I had to scrap the statement I had crafted over the previous few weeks and come up with an entirely different narrative based on the evidence I now had, review it with Sephora and re-prepare her.

But the story the records told was quite unexpected.  Suffice it to say, for now, that there was evidence in these records which, when coupled with Sephora’s odd but emphatic denials about Harder suggested that he had raped her.  In fact, sitting at home reviewing those records was the second time in as many days that I experienced that dizzying paralysis resulting from a complete reversal in what I thought I knew.

In fact, in a way that still strikes me as strange and non-rational, or perhaps meta-rational, it was like I knew , sitting there in my dining room looking at some papers, that Harder had raped Sephora some time that day, even though neither the records nor her directly and explicitly said so, which you might think – and I certainly would have thought – entirely precluded such a conclusion.

Nevertheless, I have rarely been so immediately certain of an inferred fact.

What I didn’t know was when, or where, or how.  Or why, if it was true, she hadn’t told me or anyone else.  These are, of course, important details.




Filed under financial crisis, Judicial lying/cheating, Striking lawyers, wrongful convictions

11 responses to “VIII. Glimpsing The Truth

  1. Mike

    I’ve always thought you were interesting, but here you are doing your client wrong.

    This girl is going to eventually be released from prison. She does not want people to know she was raped. Now anyone Googling her – including her children – will know she was raped.

    What are you doing to her is not fair. Please stop.


    • Lisa

      I have to disagree with you Mike. I’m not an attorney, just an average person that stumbled upon this blog and has become captivated by this story. As I read I can’t help but think about how I would feel if this was me, if I was Sephora.
      First, I would hope that I had an attorney that believed more in the truth than his/her own career. That was committed to my case, devoted to the truth and did everything with in their power to fight for it. I could only hope I had an attorney with the same passion and heart that Sephora had.
      Second, I would want someone to tell my story, the whole story. People knowing I was raped would at least be my truth, as difficult as that maybe, as opposed to being convicted of a crime I did not commit.
      What it seems you are saying is it is far worse for the public to know you have been raped than for them to believe you are guilty of kidnapping & robbery. You may not have meant to convey this, but as a woman that is how it sounds. May I remind you that being raped is not the fault of the person bring raped, they have no reason to feel ashamed or guilty, although they often do. This is a crime that was done to her, to suggest she should be ashamed and want it hidden from the world is to blame her. That is what is not fair.


      • Jeff

        It’s not his decision to make.


      • Mike

        1. You are a gawker, a sick individual. Human suffering no doubt captivates your reality-TV obsessed mind. Try empathy for a change.

        2. You also have no idea whether you’d want anyone who Googled your name to find out about your rape.

        3. As a lawyer, John has duties not to harm former clients. Lawyers also may not share facts learned during the course of representation, without the client’s consent. Putting this woman’s story online without her consent is unethical.

        4. If the woman has consented, then point 3 is repudiated.


    • This isn’t Mike Cernovich, is it? My understanding is that she has already been released from prison and is on parole. I am interested, though, in the current relationship, if any, between you and Sephora. While this may be jumping ahead in your account, it’s still perplexing that she went ahead with the Alford plea while your petition for a writ of prohibition was pending, although from what I understand your view is that the plea should not have mooted the writ of prohibition. The rape claim was already made in an online article written and published by you in 2007 while you presumably were still officially representing her (SCOTUS didn’t deny cert until 2010), and you also filed on her behalf in 2007 a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, so I’m assuming she doesn’t object and supports everything you’ve done and are doing on her behalf.


      • John, some attorneys whose opinions I respect have raised some concerns. I think they are uncalled for, but the blog is not the place to discuss them. I’m going to wait and see what comes back to me privately.


  2. Lisa

    Mike…I’m a little baffled at your reply. Apparently anyone that disagrees with your opinion you feel the need to personally attack. That’s a shame.
    As I said previously, I tried to put myself in the shoes of Mr. Regans client. I believe they call that empathy! Although I cannot possibly know what she would want or what shes been through, it’s only my opinion that I would prefer the truth be told. I’m assuming you’re not a woman who’s ever experienced being assulted by a man, so I’m going to assume you have no idea what the importance of others knowing is or isn’t.
    As far as being a gawker, sick individual and reality tv obsessed mind I can only say we are both here reading the same blog commenting on the same thing. I can only assume you are including yourself in that statement.
    I wouldn’t call someone sick for reading a blog they found interesting, but hey thats just me.


  3. berniecia

    Its time for “Real Men” to stand up for woman. I’m tired of rape being the shame of the victim. Its the rapist shame not the victim. Yet we tell our victims we don’t believe them. Even after rape is proven in most cases the victim is to remain quiet. Its over, time to forget about it. Don’t embarrass your mom, dad, kids, or uncle Mike;).
    Well sorry folks I disagree. Victims need to speak out.
    The louder the better! We need to have a “war against sexual violence”. I’m sure it would only cost half the amount as the “war on drugs”. Ha ha ha.
    I was unable to read any of the statements perhaps because I’m via blackberry not pc. So my comment is not about “Sephora” but all of us like her. I know dealing with it alone hasn’t worked for me. So why not try standing united and see how that works.


  4. Mike

    Why use her name, John? Why not just use her initials?

    Think long-term here. Doesn’t she have a daughter? What happens when her daughter’s classmates discover Google?

    Think, man. Really. You are ruining lives.


    • Do you know something the rest of us don’t? If you Google her name, the very first item that comes up are the comments on a local news story, which includes this comment: “She ended up trying to get out of what she did by saying she was raped and forced to fill her arm with heroin.”


    • Mike, her certificate of conviction is not just her initials.

      I’m a lawyer practicing since 1989 and have never been disciplined. I was honorably discharged from the US Navy at the rank of LCDR. I have known Sephora and her family for seven years and know them all very well. I think I deserve the benefit of the doubt that I at least have some idea what I am doing. Is that fair? I’m dealing with this privately over the weekend, not on the blog. So I’ll just ask you to keep an open mind for now.


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