Prosecution Witness, Kat Duff, Safe Room Interviewer.

Michael Travesser / Wayne Bent at sunset

Prosecution witness, Kat Duff - By District Attorney, Donald Gallegos, plus cross by Sara Montoya, Defense Attorney.

Judge Baca: The State’s next witness?

Donald Gallegos: Your Honor, we call Kat Duff.

Judge Baca: Alright. Kat Duff. How long do you think your direct on this witness will last?

Donald Gallegos: About the same, your Honor.

Judge Baca: Alright. Come on up to the witness stand around there. It’s sorta hidden back there.

(Kat Duff is sworn in by Judge Baca)

Judge Baca: You may have a seat and state your name.

Kat Duff: My name is Kat Duff.

Judge Baca: Alright. Mr. Gallegos you may proceed.

Donald Gallegos: Thank you, your Honor. And Miss Duff, I may ask you to speak up.

Kat Duff: Ok, I will.

Donald Gallegos: You’ve been here plenty of times and you know the acoustics are horrible in this place. So thank you.

Kat Duff: Yes.

Donald Gallegos: Miss Duff, where are you employed?

Kat Duff: Yes.

Donald Gallegos: How so?

Kat Duff: I work as a Child Forensic Interviewer with the Taos Children’s Safe Room.

Donald Gallegos: What is a Child Forensic Interviewer?

Kat Duff: A Child Forensic Interviewer interviews children in cases of suspected abuse, especially trained in child development and also in legal evidentiary standards, in order to ask those questions and do those interviews in ways that are sustainable.

Donald Gallegos: Alright. And can you tell the jury please, how long you’ve been doing that work?

Kat Duff: About ten years.

Donald Gallegos: What type of training or education do you have in this field?

Kat Duff: Well, let’s see, in this particular skill, I have a Masters Degree in Counseling and Education and then, when I started this job, I received a forty hour national training and then came back to New Mexico and had about another forty hours of training. Then, I started observing interviews performed by experienced interviewers in the state and then started doing interviews under the supervision of experienced interviewers in the state. The process took about a year.

Donald Gallegos: Can you tell the jury, approximately, if you can, how many of these interviews you’ve conducted?

Kat Duff: As best as I can tell, I haven’t actually sat down and counted them all, but approximately a thousand.

Donald Gallegos: Ok. And have you conducted Safe Room in any other county besides Taos?

Kat Duff: Yes. The Taos Children’s Safe Room serves several counties Taos County, Colfax County, Union County, San Miguel County and Mora (phonetic) County.

Donald Gallegos: So, it wouldn’t be unusual for someone to come from Clayton to Taos?

Kat Duff: Not at all.

Donald Gallegos: Can you tell the jury what a Safe Room is?

Kat Duff: The Safe Room, basically what happens, is that when an investigation of suspected child abuse is initiated either by law enforcement and or Children Youth and Family Department, they will pretty early in the process, call the Safe Room, in order to set up an interview with the child. And the Safe Room provides the place for that interview to occur, the equipment to record it and a place for all the investigators and the people pertinent to that investigation to be present at the same time so that the child does not have to be repeatedly questioned by different people and everyone, sorta on the same page.

Donald Gallegos: So is it routine for law enforcement to defer to you, when it comes to children, as far as interviewing?

Kat Duff: Yes, it is routine.

Donald Gallegos: And you’ve trained, there’s a reason for that?

Kat Duff: Yes.

Donald Gallegos: Ok. And I think you just mentioned it right?

Kat Duff: Yes.

Donald Gallegos: Let me ask you if you’re familiar with two young ladies by the name of L.S. and A.S.?

Kat Duff: Yes, I am.

Donald Gallegos: Do you recall meeting these individuals?

Kat Duff: Yes.

Donald Gallegos: Can you tell the jury how that came about?

Kat Duff: Ah... I believe it was a woman from Children Youth and Families Department that called the Safe Room asking for interviews of these two sisters.

Donald Gallegos: And was that done?

Kat Duff: Yes, it was.

Donald Gallegos: So, you were working the Safe Room at the time?

Kat Duff: That’s right.

Donald Gallegos: Do you recall who you talked to first?

Kat Duff: Ah... Which of the girls I talked to first?

Donald Gallegos: Yes.

Kat Duff: My memory is that it was A.S.

Donald Gallegos: Ok. And you were able to speak with A.S.?

Kat Duff: Yes, I was.

Donald Gallegos: Do you recall, if you can, about how long that took?

Kat Duff: You know, I want to say, about an hour. We spent awhile kind of chatting and just getting to know that child’s life in general, before going to the areas of more concern.

Donald Gallegos: Ok. And then L.S. went next?

Kat Duff: Yes.

Donald Gallegos: Do you recall, if they were on the same date?

Kat Duff: Yes.

Donald Gallegos: And that was in April, right?

Kat Duff: Ah... Late spring. I could look up the date if you’d like. I have the files.

Donald Gallegos: Would April twenty second of this year?

Kat Duff: Sounds pretty good. I can look.

Donald Gallegos: If not... Your Honor, may the witness refresh her memory? You can refer to your record without reading from it.

Judge Baca: You may do so.

Kat Duff: Yes. We have April twenty third.

Donald Gallegos: Ok. And they were both conducted on the same date?

Kat Duff: Yes.

Donald Gallegos: Alright now, after Safe Room is concluded what happens next?

Kat Duff: Well, as I mentioned, we do record the Safe Room interview and there are two original copies made of the Safe Room interview on DVD, one goes with law enforcement present, and the other goes with representative of Children Youth and Family Department, also present.

Donald Gallegos: Do you keep any copies?

Kat Duff: No, we don’t.

Donald Gallegos: Why not?

Kat Duff: Because our job is to facilitate that juncture of the investigation, but we are not investigators ourselves.

Donald Gallegos: Ok. And you said earlier, they were recorded right?

Kat Duff: Yes, they were.

Donald Gallegos: You mentioned something about DVD. Are they recorded video?

Kat Duff: You mean, is it both audio and visual?

Donald Gallegos: Yes.

Kat Duff: Yes. It’s both visual and audio.

Donald Gallegos: In this particular case, do you recall if they were recorded?

Kat Duff: Yes, they were.

Donald Gallegos: What happened to those recordings?

Kat Duff: They went with law, a representative of law enforcement and of Children Youth and Family Department, who were present at the time.

Donald Gallegos: Ok. Pass the witness, thank you.

Judge Baca: Alright, Ms. Montoya cross-examination?

Ms. Montoya: Miss Duff, the Prosecutor stated, "You’ve been here plenty of times." So, you’ve testified here in this court room before?

Kat Duff: In this court room before, yes.

Ms. Montoya: How many times? How many cases have you testified in?

Kat Duff: In this court room?

Ms. Montoya: Anywhere. In any court room.

Kat Duff: Probably a dozen.

Ms. Montoya: A dozen times. How many times were you a witness for the Prosecution or the Petitioner?

Kat Duff: Uhm... I’m thinking through the different ones. Ah... I believe it would be for the Prosecutors, pretty much.

Ms. Montoya: And how many times for the Defense?

Kat Duff: I don’t remember being requested to testify for the Defense.

Ms. Montoya: Because as you said, you, "facilitate the investigations." Correct?

Kat Duff: Yes.

Ms. Montoya: But, you are not an investigator yourself. Correct?

Kat Duff: No.

Ms. Montoya: Thank you, nothing further.

Kat Duff: Sure.

Judge Baca: Alright. Re-direct?

Donald Gallegos: No, your Honor. Thank you.

Judge Baca: Alright. You may step down. Is this witness necessary? Needed for recall?

Donald Gallegos: I don’t think so, not by the State.

Ms. Montoya: No, your Honor.

Judge Baca: Alright. Then you are excused and you may leave.

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