Blazier defense questions interview
Dickey takes issue with forensic interviewer’s report in child sex abuse case
HOLLIDAYSBURG — A defense attorney representing a former Bellwood-Antis School District wrestling coach accused of sexually assaulting two youths is raising questions about the boys and their allegations as the case moves closer to an October trial.
During a pretrial hearing Wednesday in Blair County Court, defense attorney Thomas M. Dickey took issue with a forensic interviewer who described one of the two youths as the most stressed child she ever interviewed.
Jackie Condron, who interviews children at the Altoona Center for Child Justice, said the 14-year-old boy she interviewed on Feb. 2, 2020, would run his hand through his hair and grab it tightly. His legs were shaking, she recalled, and he twisted a bracelet around his thumb.
If a jury is going to see a videotape of that interview, then the jurors are entitled to know more about the youth and factors influencing his behavior, Dickey argued Wednesday on behalf of Ryan L. Blazier, 41, of Altoona, the former coach facing aggravated indecent assault, institutional sexual assault and related charges.
First Assistant District Attorney Nichole Smith disagreed with Dickey’s conclusion and told Judge Daniel J. Milliron that by seeing the child’s stress during Condron’s interview, the jury will be in a better position to judge the child’s credibility.
Dickey argued that Condron conducted her interview of this youth and the second youth with limited knowledge about the boys.
“If their behavior (during the interview) is due to some other factor, she wouldn’t know that,” he said.
Blazier’s trial, previously scheduled to start in late August, was delayed so that Dickey had more time to review a large quantity of records collected by state police at Hollidaysburg during the investigation.
During Wednesday’s pretrial hearing, Dickey questioned state Trooper Eric Glunt, formerly of the Hollidaysburg barracks, about his interview with one of the youths who levied allegations against Blazier.
Dickey suggested that the youth had referenced his thigh and groin during the interview and that it was Glunt who used the word testicles, a word that the boy repeated. Glunt said he didn’t recall who used the word first because it’s been a while since the May 6, 2020, interview at the barracks.
Milliron said Wednesday that the case remains scheduled for jury selection on Oct. 4, with the four-day trial beginning Oct. 12.
The judge is expected to rule, prior to trial, on matters influencing how the trial proceeds and how evidence is offered to the jury.
It was also suggested Wednesday that the defense is proposing to offer character witnesses at trial. As judge, Milliron can set rules addressing their testimony and the number of witnesses.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.