Alleged victims testify in start of Rutledge trial
Editor’s note: In respect for their confidentiality , The Sun will refer to the women in this case only by their first names.
NEVADA CITY – The first of 13 women claiming to have suffered while in the custody of a former Truckee jailer finished her testimony Tuesday after nine hours on the stand.
Ginger, a 44-year-old mother of three convicted of a 1997 Bay Area car theft, often offered conflicting testimony in the trial of former jailer Bobby Alvin “B.A.” Rutledge. Rutledge, 30, is accused of conducting illegal strip searches of female inmates and of two counts of rape and other sexual misconduct.
Ginger’s testimony differed not only from her testimony on Friday, but also from testimony she offered in a February 1998 preliminary hearing and what she told investigators in 1997, when the allegations first surfaced.
Jurors learned Tuesday that Ginger kept a journal of some of the events surrounding the attack in the Truckee jail, which prosecutors say occurred in April 1997. She refused to give the journal to investigators until threatened with a subpoena in early 1998, she testified. The journal was missing several pages, and defense attorney Stephen Munkelt accused her of not giving it up “because you hadn’t written it yet. Isn’t that correct?”
“No,” Ginger said.
Rutledge is accused of illegally strip-searching Ginger, fondling her breasts, and sexually assaulting her on one occasion, and on another occasion of forcing her to take a shower at the jail and then raping her.
In earlier testimony, Ginger said the rape was witnessed by a man named “Mikey,” who was locked in another jail cell.
“You told Sgt. (Ron) Smith that you saw Mikey looking at you while being raped, is that true?” asked Munkelt.
“I’m not sure if that’s the sequence,” Ginger replied.
“You told Sgt. Smith that he told you to resist; he was saying ‘Resist, fight, fight.'”
“No, not during the act,” Ginger said.
Ginger frequently proved a difficult witness for District Attorney Michael Ferguson, who often had to ask and re-ask a question three times before getting an “I don’t remember.”
“When you met me in February 1998, did you trust me then?” Ferguson asked.
“No,” replied Ginger.
“Do you trust me now?” Ferguson asked.
“Do you trust your own attorney?” Ferguson asked.
“No,” Ginger answered again. It was her final testimony of the day.
The hourlong testimony of “Mikey” – Eugene Michael Langberg Jr. – was a stark contrast to Ginger’s. While Ginger’s testimony was often torturous, the clean-cut Langberg, who often stood ramrod straight next to the witness stand, offered a staccato “Yes, sir” and “No, sir.”
Langberg, who lives in Wyoming, testified he was arrested in Antioch for stealing $1,400 from a family with whom he had been staying and was brought to Truckee on a warrant alleging he had left cats unattended. Langberg was in the jail cell closest to the shower where Ginger testified Rutledge raped her.
Langberg told jurors he was lying on the top bunk in the cell when he saw Rutledge take Ginger to the shower area. He said he heard water running, and when it stopped, he heard two voices and some “thumping,” which lasted about five minutes. Then he saw Ginger and Rutledge reappear with Ginger fully clothed.
Ginger testified Friday that Rutledge forced her to wear a towel around her body and one in her wet hair while she walked back to the cell area.
Langberg described how Ginger “blurted out” that Rutledge had raped her after the two were released from jail together. Langberg said he tried to comfort her while the two hitchhiked together to the Bay area.
The trial continued Wednesday in Nevada City and is expected to last another five weeks.
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