Alleged Abuser Plays Lawyer

Salvador Cruz, who drove one woman to almost throw herself off the courthouse roof, will grill three more victims.

On Monday, prosecutors dismissed charges that Salvador Cruz had molested a young girl. That young girl, now a woman, ran up to the King County Courthouse roof last Thursday and spent several hours there, seemingly preparing to jump, before she could be talked down. The woman was apparently distraught at having to testify at Cruz's trial, thereby being subjected to questioning by her alleged abuser, who was serving as his own attorney. Instead, prosecutors dropped the charges so she wouldn't have to take the stand. Three other alleged victims, including the woman's younger sister, identified in court documents as J.C., still will, however. And on Tuesday, J.C.'s mother—Cruz's former girlfriend—was grilled by Cruz. Not very competently, either. Cruz is a 40-year-old Mexican native who returned to his homeland for 10 years before re-entering this country in 2008 and landing in police custody. Holding a huge sheaf of papers, and using two Spanish-language interpreters to help him ask questions, he made slow progress. He went line by line through the transcript of an interview the mother gave to police. His questions made so little sense that prosecutor Val Richey frequently objected and King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North took to giving Cruz lectures on how to proceed. "You have to ask a question the witness can understand, not just read long sections of the transcript," North admonished. Even reading the transcript, Cruz made mistakes, telling the witness she said something that was not on the page, as the prosecutor pointed out. The former girlfriend's face was set in a permanent scowl, but she did not seem scared, despite the recurring threats Cruz had allegedly made against her while they were living together—even at one point holding a gun to her head. Cruz referred to himself in the third person, while she pointedly addressed him as "you." "Didn't I already tell you? I do not remember the dates and times, but you were living with us," she said as Cruz seemed to be trying to get her to admit that they had not shared an apartment for very long, if at all. The woman identified as J.C. was as a child so scared of Cruz that she took to hiding under the bed when left alone with him in the family's Redmond apartment, according to the prosecutor's trial memo. "This family is hanging on by a thread," Richey told the judge on Tuesday, requesting that the witnesses not be photographed by the press. Cruz is also under pressure. Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff for the King County Prosecutor, says that in the event of a guilty verdict, his office intends to seek a life sentence.

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