Eric Nordmark, p2

The girls described their attacker to the police. The officer who noticed Eric picking up butts on the sidewalk the next day thought he fitted their description.

Four days after Eric’s mug shots were taken, the police put his picture in a “photo lineup“ along with pictures of several other people and asked the girls to identify their attacker. Catili and Yolanda pointed to Eric’s picture but Aurora didn’t. The photo lineup was also shown to two boys who lived in the same apartment complex as the girls. They said Eric looked like the man who had spoken to them in a frightening way in the park just a few days before the girls were attacked. That was when the police decided to charge Eric.

On January 23, 2004, after being in jail for eight months, Eric finally went on trial. From the beginning, Eric had insisted that he was not guilty. He was very afraid of being convicted. He knew that, if he was, he’d have to serve a long term in prison, and he knew how cruelly child molesters are treated by other prisoners. He also knew that even after he got out, he’d suffer all his life from the stigma of being a convicted child molester. If he was found guilty, he planned to kill himself immediately. He was going to tape a razor blade to his skin with a bar-code sticker from the prison store, and then, while he was in a special cell waiting to be sentenced, he was going to cut his throat.

On the first day of the trial, Catili was in the witness stand. Once again, she told the story of the attack. She answered questions from Eric’s lawyer and the government lawyer who was prosecuting him. Her testimony was credible: everyone believed her. That was a Thursday. The court did not meet on Friday. After the weekend, on Monday morning, as Eric was led from his prison cell to the courtroom, he noticed he was being treated more kindly. When he arrived in the courtroom, he was surprised to see there was no one there except his lawyer, the prosecutor, the judge, and Catili. The prosecutor quickly asked the judge to dismiss the charges against Eric. The judge did this and Eric was free.

Eric’s lawyer explained to him that after she had testified, Catili had confessed to her mother that the story was a lie. There had been no attack. None of the girls had ever seen Eric before the trial began.

On Monday morning Catili was supposed to continue her testimony but she didn’t show up. When the prosecutor phoned her home to find out what was wrong, her mother told her that Catili had gone to school because she didn’t want to go back to court. The prosecutor told Catili’s mother to bring Catili to the court. When she got there she told the prosecutor that she had been lying.

- information from: The Los Angeles Times, 04.01.30 (Daniel Yi); The Los Angeles Times, 04.02.10 (H.G. Reza, Joel Rubin); The Los Angeles Times, 04.02.12 (Joel Rubin, Christine Hanley); The Los Angeles Times, 04.02.13 (H.G. Reza, Jennifer Mena); The Los Angeles Times, 04.02.23 (H.G. Reza, Christine Hanley, James Ricci);The New York Times, 01.02.15 (Sam Dillon)