DECATUR — The developmentally disabled victim who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a Macon Resources Inc. employee in a van one year ago is competent to testify at the trial of her assailant.
That was the ruling Associate Judge Timothy Steadman made at a hearing Thursday.
Darion Phiffer, 24, who was fired from his position as job coach at Macon Resources shortly after the incident, sat with his attorney, Steve Jones, as the victim testified.
The hearing was held as a result of the defendant’s motion to examine the victim for competence.
Under questioning by Jones, the victim said she would be able to tell her side of the story and she knew that she was not supposed to tell a lie.
When Jones asked her how long ago the sexual assault incident occurred, she said, “I think it was a month ago. I’m not sure.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Dobson, who was wearing a black-and-white suit, asked her, “If I said I’m wearing a yellow dress, would that be the truth or a lie?”
“A lie,” she said.
She also gave detailed responses to questions about her employment responsibilities at Macon Resources and the Homeward Bound pet shelter.
The victim said Phiffer, whose job was “to take me to Homeward Bound and take me back to work,” was driving her in a car at the time of the incident.
She testified that Phiffer “parked in a parking lot near Subway,” and then “asked me if I wanted to have children.”
After the victim told the court details of the sexual assault, she cried out “Mom-my,” and looked toward her mother, who was sitting in the first row of the gallery. Then the victim burst into tears.
Dobson argued that the victim was not required to testify as to the exact date of the incident.
Before making his ruling, Steadman said the witness was “very, very understandable,” her responses were appropriate to the questions, and “overall, she is capable of expressing herself.”
Phiffer, who is free on bond, is due in circuit court for a pretrial hearing Feb. 6.
Macon Resources Executive Director Dreux Lewandowski said a policy implemented since the incident prohibits clients from traveling alone with anybody.
“We did a complete review of all our practices and made adjustments to further assure personal safety for the people we serve,” Lewandowski said.