The painful secret (1)

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Chapter twenty-five

As Allison stepped into her house, a flood of memories washed over her. Even though her father was gone for the moment, his presence still haunted every room. Every beating, every slur, every single minute he tortured her, washed over her instantly. A chill washed over her as she started through her home, making her way up to her room. Her eyes scanned over everything as if this was the first time in the brick structure. It was as if she had been gone for ages, though only a few days have passed.

In fact, she wouldn't have come back at all, knowing that her father would be able to make bail, but the police assured her that the evidence was too incriminating. They posted his bail at three million dollars and that was too much for even him to waste. The court dates were already scheduled and approaching fast. She dreaded seeing his face again, but it had to be done.

Entering her room, she let her fingers graze over random furniture. The last time she was in here, she was being brutally lashed by leather, while Brian watched in horror from her closet. Lying down on her bed, Allison hugged a pillow to her chest. Just as she was settling down, the phone rang. Rising from bed and hurrying downstairs, Ally smiled at the caller ID. She picked up and greeted the person on the other side of the receiver. "Hi, Brian."

~~~~

The weeks passed and things had settled down quite a bit. Allison and Brian were together almost everyday. Sometimes they were working on their art project and other times, they would go out or spend time with their friends.

However, the day had come for Allison to face her father in court. She had met with her attorney, supplied by the Lake's, many times and had gone over some of the questions that may be asked. The tall female attorney, Mary Sowings, made sure to cover everything to make the red-haired girl as comfortable as possible.

The judge, Barry Shineman, gave a brief summary to the jury before giving Mary the floor. The dark-haired woman stood from her chair. "First, I want to say that I am here to defend my client, Allison Lia, who had to endure three years of abuse and mistreatment by her father. This man has beaten her both mentally, and physically, and I have the evidence to back her endeavors," she said confidently towards the jury. "I even have a witness, so I would like to call Brian Lake to the stand."

The said boy rose from a bench behind Mary and took the stand. After swearing in, the boy waited, calmly, for the woman to start asking her questions.

"Please, Mr. Lake, tell the judge and jury what you saw a month ago when you were at the Lia household."

And he did. He made sure to tell them every detail from why he was there to what he saw while inside the closet.

"Thank you," Mary said, taking her seat.

It was time for Mr. Lia's attorney, Mr. Jerry Marks, to bombard the Lake with questions now. "Now, Brian, after hearing your story, I have to wonder why you didn't call the police right away or even help her. You are her boyfriend, right?"

Brian set a pair of dark eyes on the man. "She told me not to, afraid that her father would find out and attack her again."

A large smirk crossed his pale face. "What you are trying to tell me is that even though you obviously care for the girl, you sat by and did nothing just because she asked you not to?"

Brian nodded, wondering where he was going with this.

He paced in front of the stand before starting his accusations. "I don't believe it. I think that you are the one that inflicted Miss Lia with those scars after the two of you had a lover's spat."

Mary stood from her chair. "Objection, your Honor. There is no evidence of a 'lover's spat'. The two were only friends when this incident happened anyway."

"Sustained. Jerry, please get to the point."

He nodded. "I think that Brian here is the real guilty one and that Miss Lia is only playing along with this as a means of trade. If she accused someone else, Brian would leave her be."

Barry banged his mallet. "That accusation is preposterous, Jerry. Strike it."

"My apologies." He looked at the jury. "I have nothing more to ask."

So Brian was told to retake his seat. Next up was David and then Jenna. They told the jury why they hadn't gone to the police; again being that Allison asked them not to. They also wanted to make it clear that they did not council her at all and that they had no influence on her.

After cross-examination, Ally was up. She swore in and glanced at Brian for support. Mary stood. "I want to make it clear that Allison has been beaten and also mentally abused." She handed the pictures of her scars and gaunt frame to the judge, who reviewed them and then passed them on to his jury. "This is hard for her and I request that the jury have patience as she answers. Someone who has been through what she has is going to have trouble reciting their woes." She turned to Allison. "Please tell the judge, jury, and everyone here your story. Take your time and recall everything that you can."

Slowly, the red-haired girl told her story, starting from the very beginning, including the fact that her father changed after her mother's death and that he had gone to counseling for alcohol abuse. She had to pause a few times as emotion swelled to her eyes. After some reassurance from Mary, she continued. Finishing her story, Jerry stepped up again, questions already forming in his head.

"Why didn't you tell anyone, Allison? Why did you feel the need to hide this?"

"I was scared她f him." Her eyes fell on her father, his intimating gaze meeting her frail one.

Jerry cupped his hands behind his back as he paced. "Then why now? What made you decide to come forward now?"

Allison looked at Brian. "Because I had support. I wouldn't be able to do this without the support of the Lake's. They were all so kind to me and they helped me realize that what my father was doing was wrong."

"When you say 'helped you', do you mean that they persuaded you?"

Allison shook her head. "No. I came forward of my own will. They didn't council me or push me into speaking up."

Herry was relentless with his questions. "You have received no counseling right? None for this or for your mother's death?"

"Correct," she replied.

"Then how do we know that this whole thing isn't some sick and twisted story that you came up with in your mind. True, my client did have a drinking problem, but he got help for it. Coincidently from the Lake's and from the report, they said he had made an astounding recovery. Maybe you were so bitter about loosing your mother that you blamed your father and when he started dating again, you became angry that he was replacing her. Maybe, just maybe, you inflicted these wounds on yourself and went to the police and accused him of the crime."

Mary objected. "There is no possible way for her to inflict those wounds on herself."

"Alright," Jerry said. "Then maybe you asked your boyfriend to do it for you."

Allison shook her head. "No. I would never ask him to do something like that and he wouldn't."

"He is messed up too," he continued. "I don't doubt it. Admit it. You asked him to do this to you so that you could spite your father."

"No! That's not true."

"And when he beat you, you went right to the police and reported your father."

"No"

"Admit it, Allison! This whole thing is just a ploy because you are still traumatized after your mother's death."

Tears streamed down her face. "No. You're wrong."

Mary stood. "Objection! I am requesting for a ten minute recess."

Barry nodded. "The court will recess for ten minutes." He slammed his mallet down.

Allison hurried out of the court room, wiping the tears away. This was over her head. She never expected them to bring her mother into this. The mere mention of the woman staggered Allison. Rushing into the bathroom, she splashed water on her face. The door opened and Mary walked in. "I can't do this"

She offered her a smile. "You can, Allison. Jerry is just messing with your mind. Your father must have known that your mother was a sensitive subject and said so to his attorney. They are using it against you and, I regret to say, it seems to be working."

Ally looked away. "I'm sorry"

Mary sighed. "I've had a couple of abuse cases, but none of them have as much evidence as yours. There is no way that you can loose. However, you can't give in to their ploys."

"I know that, but"

"No buts. I am not about to let your father get off scott-free. You need to step up and face him," she said. It was harsh, but very true. "Like you said, the Lake's are supporting you and," she set a hand on the girl's shoulder, "I am behind you as well."

A smile formed on her lips. "Thank you, Mary."

"Don't thank me until we win."

Allison nodded and looked at herself once more. Mary's words hit her hard and they replayed in her mind over and over again. She had so many people rooting for her; the Lake's, Mary, and even her friends that were currently at school. She couldn't let them down, not after they've done so much for her. "Then奸et's win," she finally said.

~~~~

Allison retook the stand and readied herself for Jerry's questions, after apologizing for running out so quickly.

Her father's attorney paced in front of her. "I hope you are better now, Allison," he said, though there was no meaning behind it.

She nodded. "Yes." Her words were firm, but she was scared on the inside. However, she had to get through this.

"Good to hear" He glanced at his client. "So, as I was saying, I have a theory. Like I have said, I believe all of your wounds were either self inflicted, or done by request. Let's face it," he said, turning to the jury. "Your mother's death left you in a state of trauma. For three years you tried to get over it, but you couldn't. This is the result of refusing treatment."

Allison looked at him. "No. I chose not to join counseling because I didn't need it. Yes, I was upset, but it is not uncommon for people to go on with their lives after the death of a family member. I was doing fine until my father started drinking and beating me."

"Supposedly," Jerry finished. "But the coincidence that the Lake's, also your father's counselor, are here to support you is suspicious. They would know all of his most personal secrets, including what it would take to get under his skin. The fact that you and their son are dating is obviously persuading them to back you. But, let me remind the jury that they were also the ones who released him with a clean bill of health. So the question is why they would suddenly accuse him of such a crime." A smirk creased his lips. "From what Miss Lia said, she was being beaten in the last stages of his therapy, which prompts me to wonder how that could be if the Lake's said he was excelling in his meetings with them. So, either they are unfit therapists or my client is innocent ant that the true criminal here, is Allison." He made sure to glance at the Lake's before saying that he had no more questions.

Next up was Mr. Lia. He strode confidently to the stand and swore in. He told his side of the story, saying that he would never hurt his own daughter. He said he loved his daughter and would never even dream of putting a hand on her. Basically, he was trying to win over the jury by playing the loving father card. He even went so far as shedding a tear, astounded that his daughter would even accuse him of such a heinous crime when all he did was love her.

After his heart felt story of bullshit, Mary began her questioning and she was eager. "Now, Mr. Lia, why do you think your daughter is accusing you of this crime?"

"I don't know," he replied, his words full of feigned sorrow. "I thought everything was fine between us. I discussed dating other people with her and she was fine with it."

"You're attorney accused my client, your daughter, of self infliction and requesting someone of wounding her. Would you think your daughter was so distraught over her mother's death that she would go that far?"

"Well她bviously."

Mary grinned and paced. "I don't think so and do you want to know why? I'll tell you," she continued, without waiting for a reply. "Because it is extremely hard to fake mental trauma. Your daughter exhibits qualities of abuse that cannot be feigned or copied and, if that is not substantial enough, I would like to dismiss Mr. Lia from the stand and call someone else up."

"Objection, your honor," Jerry protested. "I had no intelligence of another witness."

"But it is in my briefing as a possible witness, which I assume you didn't care to look at. Even my client has no idea who t is."

Barry glanced down at a couple of papers on his stand and nodded to Mary. "Bring in your witness, Mary."

"Thank you, your Honor." She waited for Mr. Lia to leave the stand before calling up her next witness. "I would like to ask Jake Jeffrey to the stand."

Allison and Brian's eyes widened in surprise as their brown-haired teacher appeared through the door. He grinned at them with his eyes and swore in. But even before Mary could start asking questions, Jeffrey brought out his book and leaned back in his chair as he read. After the judge told him he was not allowed to read while on the stand, he put the orange book away, now looking bored.

"Mr. Jeffrey," Mary started. "Please tell the court what your relationship to my client is."

"I am her art teacher at Hilia High School and have been since her freshman year, almost three years ago."

"Alright, so tell me, did you find anything strange about my client? Did she seem.different than the other students?"

Jeffrey cupped his chin with his forefinger and thumb. "Yes吁he was very jumpy and didn't talk much while my other students were quite social. I could tell it wasn't just shyness either. If someone near her made a sudden movement she would flinch as if she feared being hit. And she always wore long-sleeved shirts and pants, even though Grace's climate didn't call for it. Then there were her frequent absences."

"If she was absent so much, then why wasn't she held back? I believe there is a set amount of absences one student can have per school year."

Jeffrey nodded. "Each student can only be absent ten times a year and Allison must have tripled that amount. However, thanks to doctor's notes, she was excused."

"Doctor's notes you say? Did you know that Allison's father was a doctor?"

That actually surprised the teacher. "No. I didn't."

"So what named was scribed at the bottom of them?"

Jeffrey thought for a second as he recalled the name. "I believe the name was吉icholas."

Mary grinned and handed a folder to the judge. "These are the notes written as excuses for her absences." She was ecstatic when Jeffrey told her that he kept the notes on record and willingly handed them over to her after he was briefed on the case. He was the deciding factor in this case and she knew that.

After the judge glanced over the mass amount of notes, he handed the folder to the jury for their review.

Mary continued. "After talking to a few of your co-workers, they all said that they never saw your daughter come in once. Not even the receptionist has a record of it. In fact, she even said that you often took notes home with you. When I asked them what your relationship to Nicholas was, everyone said that you were close friends. Now, I come to find out that the school does not accept parental notes, so I assume this friend of yours was writing the notes for you. If a doctor, that you weren't close with, did examine my client, I am positive that they would find the scars your beatings left behind which they would undoubtedly question."

The court room had fallen completely silent. No one even breathed. Mary smirked, knowing she had made her point and reclaimed her seat. When it was Jerry's turn to question Jeffrey, he plainly said that the defense had no questions. They were beat and they knew it.
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