During his child sex abuse trial, Santa Maria businessman Hans Kardel said Tuesday that he apologized to his daughter during a phone call for going into a storeroom with his granddaughter, but denied molestation occurred.
Kardel, 84, a former Rotarian and retired owner of Kardel Insurance Services, has been on trial the last two weeks at Santa Maria Superior Court for allegedly molesting his two granddaughters -- Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 -- when they were under the age of 16.
Closing statements will commence Wednesday morning before the case goes to the jury.
Kardel took the stand a final time Tuesday, and said he had apologized to his daughter and asked for her forgiveness for not setting a higher bar "for behavior in my life."
"In that sense, I didn't make the bar, because I went to the storeroom [with Doe 2]," Kardel said. "No molestation occurred, but the appearance was bad."
Under defense attorney Catherine Swysen's questioning, Kardel again blamed Satan for luring him into the storeroom outside his home, where he went with Doe 2.
"I wish I never did it," he said. "If I didn't go in there, we wouldn't be here today."
Kardel also maintained that he had no idea his daughter had gone to the police, during the pretext phone calls, but had never forced her not to report him.
"You indicated that you should've never gone [into the storeroom], but if you didn't do anything wrong, why does it matter?" prosecutor Fabiana Fede asked during cross-examination.
"It's the appearance of it," Kardel replied. "If the adults heard the commotion inside, opened the door, I didn't want to face questions about why the door was closed. That's why I never returned to the storeroom after the first two times."
According to earlier testimony, the alleged victims came forward to their mother about the alleged abuse in November 2015. The abuse reportedly spanned a decade, from 2005 to 2015.
Dr. Anthony Urquiza, a pediatric psychologist from UC Davis testified Tuesday that an alleged victim's delayed disclosure of sexual abuse is common and, also, depends on the quality of the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim.
A child may love the perpetrator and have a positive relationship with him or her, said Urquiza, adding close relationships often put pressure on a child to stay quiet about the abuse.
In turn, victims won't always report the abuse, and, according to research studies, "most wait a significant period of time, maybe a month to even years from when the incident first occurred to finally disclosing it," Urquiza said under Fede's questioning.
Possible reasons for the delay in disclosure could be fear of the perpetrator or a perpetrator's threats, Urquiza said. Additionally, "being abused comes with a sense of shame, and victims are often afraid others will find out and, also, blame themselves," he testified.
When they finally disclose details to someone, they don't disclose too much information all at once, and only share vague bits and pieces of events, or incomplete descriptions of the events, he added.
A child could disclose a basic narrative of the abuse, but "there are some limits to that," Urquiza said. The more incidents there are, the harder it may be for the child to remember.
When asked what causes children to report abuse, "a variety of factors could serve as a catalyst," said Urquiza, citing maturity, sense of independence, or being triggered by a television show or a school presentation about abuse.
Under Swysen's questioning, Urquiza admitted that there are also some children who disclose it right away but couldn't provide a specific number.
"It's a much smaller percentage of children," he added.
It is also possible for children to have a wide range of responses after disclosing abuse, Urquiza testified, as some could cry, be emotional, detach or have flat expressions. Children also could have nightmares, be afraid, develop risky behaviors or get into drugs.
"So all these behaviors, including delayed disclosure, don't tell you if a child is abused or not, correct?" Swysen pressed, to which Urquiza admitted that it did not.
"You can't use behavior descriptions to determine if abuse occurred or not," Urquiza said. "The only way to determine if a child was abused is for a jury to decide; it's not the place of science to make that legal decision."
Another psychologist, Dr. William O'Donohue -- the defense's expert -- testified Tuesday that just because an allegation is delayed, there are no physical indicators to confirm whether the abuse actually occurred or not.
A victim's emotions or behavior also cannot be used to determine whether the allegations were true or false, he said.