One of the key witnesses in the trial testified that her tennis coach twice had unprotected sex with her.
Day two in the trial of Peter Jeschke – the former Santa Barbara High School tennis coach accused of giving drugs and alcohol to some of his players and having sex with one of them – brought to the witness stand the voice of the then 16-year-old he allegedly had sex with. In testimony that spanned hours, the girl, now a senior at Santa Barbara High School, answered a series of questions recounting what the prosecution outlined as the events that led up to several separate sex acts that allegedly occurred on different occasions in Jeschke’s car and at a house he was watching for a friend on East Pueblo Street.
Stone-faced, the thin, young-looking girl answered the questions asked by Deputy District Attorney Joyce Dudley, losing her composure only when confused by the many unclear questions asked by defense attorney Lara Yeretsian. The girl said that during a trip to Disneyland in October 2007-for which her parents and those of two other girls paid Jeschke to take them to a tournament in the area-Jeschke bought her and the others drinks. Although Jeschke regularly took her out to lunch during school meal breaks – an act Yeretsian suggested was done because of her client’s concern that his player wasn’t eating enough – it was during the tournament trip that she said he became more attentive toward her. “He was holding me around my waist and touching my back a lot more,” she said.
With her parents sitting in the courtroom, the teen then recounted play-by-play details of the several visits she made to the house Jeschke was house-sitting. The first time, he gave her white wine to drink, which she said made her feel “tired and loose,” after which she said he took off her clothes and performed oral sex on her. According to the rest of her testimony, subsequent encounters were similar, until the day before Thanksgiving 2007, when she reported going to the East Pueblo Street residence, where Jeschke gave her marijuana and had sex with her in the hot tub. She told the court that on November 23 – the day after the holiday – she went to the house again, where he gave her ecstasy and had sex with her again, giving her cocaine to wake her up when her parents called and told her to come home. “He told me I couldn’t tell anyone – especially my [best friend],” she said, adding that she told her friend about the incidents as soon as they happened.
During her cross-examination, Yeretsian focused her attention upon a pair of diaries that the teen kept. The one she normally wrote in had been thrown into the trash before that Thanksgiving, as the girl said it contained information she felt might get Jeschke or herself in trouble. The other diary she kept contained only two entries, one from November 23, 2007, and one from December 3, 2007. The second diary, part of which was read in court, mentioned someone named Shiah, which the teen said was a code name she used to reference Jeschke. “Shiah is fucked, because I could ruin his life. I could end it in two seconds because he is being an ass,” said the December 3 entry, which she said was written in anger at having been diagnosed with HPV (human papillomavirus) after twice having unprotected sex with Jeschke.
Yeretsian’s questions appeared to be aimed at discrediting the girl, who is one of the prosecution’s key witnesses. At one point Yeretsian suggested that the trial should be halted so that the teen girl could obtain an attorney to address criminal cocaine and ecstasy use, but Judge Frank Ochoa quickly shot the idea down. Yeretsian continued to examine the two diaries and what she said were discrepancies between the girl’s testimony and her interview in December 2007 with Santa Barbara Police Detective Jim Ella.
The girl countered that she had been very upset at the time she was initially interviewed by police and may have left things out, but maintained that keeping what had happened to herself had gone against a sense of honesty she had prized since youth. She said that even her mother had at first agreed that the story shouldn’t get out. “Eventually we told the truth because I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t keep lying,” she said. After she told her mother what was going on, the teen and her mother, who testified later, said that Jeschke had called and sent text messages indicating that he felt terrible and was going to kill himself.
Throughout the week, a slate of witnesses, to include school administrators and employees, friends and teammates of the alleged victim, and others involved in the case, will take the stand.