Sacto 9-1-1
November 22, 2011
Accused pastor tells Sacramento jury he didn't molest girls

By Andy Furillo

afurillo@sacbee.com

A pastor accused of child molestation took the witness stand in his own defense and denied that he ever sexually abused any kids.

"No, absolutely not," Tommy Gene Daniels replied when asked by his attorney if any of the allegations are true that five children lodged against him in Sacramento Superior Court over the past two weeks.

Daniels, 49, the pastor of the Rio Linda First Baptist Church, testified only 10 minutes under direct questioning from defense lawyer Michael L. Chastaine.

The defense lawyer asked for details on one girl's story, a 12-year-old who testified that she was molested July 5, 2005, while she slept in a bedroom in the Daniels home in Citrus Heights were she had been in day care. The girl testified she fell asleep on the living room floor, was carried to a bedroom and that a man she identified in court as Daniels came in and touched her vagina.

Daniels testified that he opened the bedroom door to let a cat inside the bedroom but that he did not enter.

In her cross-examination of Daniels, Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Macy scored him for his responses to the girl's mother when she called him a month after the alleged incident in a "pretext" conversation that was taped by police.

In the phone conversation with the mother, Daniels said the girl was in his daughter's bedroom for only 10 minutes when it was actually more than an hour. Daniels said he did not know why he got the time wrong.

The D.A. also suggested that another molestation allegation had been lodged against Daniels in 1988 but he denied it.

"No, ma'am, that is absolutely incorrect," Daniels testified.

Daniels also said if he had to do it all over again, he never would have gotten into the day care and foster care business with his wife.

"What this has done to my family, what this has done to me..., I would never ever do this again and I would warn anyone considering it to stay as far away from it as they possibly could," Daniels testified.

Earlier today, Macy in her cross-examiantion ripped into a psychologist for not reporting an allegation of sexual misconduct that a girl had levied against the defendant.

Macy questioned the therapist, Mell La Valley, on why she had two other adults on hand when she talked to the girl about the allegations she made against Daniels. Macy suggested in her questioning it would have been less-intimidating for the girl to have questioned her in a one-on-one session. One of the other adults was Daniels' wife and and the third was the girl's adoptive mother. Macy also questioned La Valley on why she held the session in the Daniels' Citrus Heights home, where the girl said the alleged molestation took place.

La Valley testified that the three confronted the girl "in a non-threatening way" and that the accuser recanted her allegation against Daniels.

La Valley said the three first told the girl she wasn't in trouble but that it was important for her to tell them the truth. She said they took this approach because the girl had a "dynamic" of "severe lying" and to approach her the way the prosecutor suggested -- to simply ask her what happened -- "would have opened up the door, slam dunk, so she could lie about this."

"So you walked into this assuming the girl was teling a lie?" Macy asked.

"Yes," La Valley testified, before adding, "Suspecting, not assuming."

La Valley, a licensed marriage and family therapist, was required by law to report the allegation to police. She testified she did not because she had "no reasonable suspicion" that the allegation was true.

"We all agreed there was no basis for it," La Valley said, referring to herself, Daniels' wife Brenda and the girl's adoptive mother. "She (the girl) was not upset, she was not crying...If there was any doubt about what had happened, I would have pursued it."

La Valley said she "was believing" the girl "when she took (the allegation) back."

The therapist said the girl "was not the only kid who has made allegations and lied...It's rather sadly common. We deal with it. We dealt with the underlying issue, and we were done...It was a typical day."

La Valley confirmed that she did not document the conversation with the girl and that "I wish that I had."

Daniels is accused on 12 counts of child molestation involving five alleged victims, including the girl who was the subject of today's line of questioning.

Prosecutors say the molestations took place between 2003 and 2005 at Daniels' home on Wapiti Place where his wife was a licensed day care and foster care provider. The license was revoked in 2003. An an administrative law judge later sustained allegations that the providers misappropriated funds and that Tommy Gene Daniels made a veiled threat against an employee from a foster services agency.

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