Friend of a Bay Area lawyer on trial for child molestation recalls witnessing a disturbing “father-daughter dynamic.”

A friend of former Vacaville attorney James Glenn Haskell, who’s accused of multiple child sexual assaults and is in Solano County Superior Court, said he witnessed and spoke of several instances of close physical contact between the defendant and his eldest adopted daughter a “father-daughter dynamic”. wasn’t natural.”

James Glenn Haskell.  (Solano County Sheriff's Office)
James Glenn Haskell. (Solano County Sheriff's Office)

Describing himself as a “family friend,” Trevor McKenzie told Assistant District Attorney Shelly Moore in Branch 25 Wednesday morning that he saw Haskell and the then-minor daughter “cuddling” on the defendant's Vacaville home several years ago.

When he visited Haskell and his wife, Emily, Haskell and the daughter sat side by side on a couch, he said, adding, “There were a lot of them.” The defendant, he said, often put his arms across the daughter , one in all three the couple adopted. (The reporter doesn’t typically discover victims of sexual abuse or sexual assault).

In response to other questions from Moore, he said, “She would be hip to hip with James” or “on his lap” when he visited the Haskells' Solar Hills home, the second of two homes the family has lived in lately .

At least once, McKenzie saw Haskell, 42, stroke the daughter's shoulder along with his middle finger, then down her arm and scratch her back as well.

According to court documents and testimony, Haskell faces 16 felony and misdemeanor counts, alleged crimes committed between October 2018 and thru early February 2022. The children were eventually faraway from the Haskell home.

Charges later made within the case also included 4 felony counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object without the victim being aware of it. Additional charges include two felony counts of injury to a toddler. Haskell, who stays out on bail, pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Another prosecution witness, Dawn French, said she knew Haskell “through the Mormon Church,” where he served in a ward as a bishop, that’s, the leader of a congregation or local congregation, with duties much like those of a pastor, priest or the Mormon Church Rabbi.

She recalled a case involving Haskell that made her “uneasy,” an encounter between the defendant and a foreign exchange student.

French said she witnessed Haskell place his hand on the girl's “thigh” at a social gathering.

She wasn't sure how long Haskell had his hand on the girl's thigh, but she said she made “eye contact” with him and he removed his hand.

“I thought it was inappropriate,” said French, who said she also witnessed Haskell approach the foreign exchange student, who was sitting by the pool together with her legs within the water, at a backyard pool party. While she was within the water, Haskell landed between her legs and spoke to her.

Haskell's attorney, distinguished Fairfield criminal defense attorney Thomas Maas, objected to Moore's line of questioning, and Judge Janice M. Williams asked the jury to go away the courtroom for some time.

Maas complained that he knew nothing concerning the exchange student matter before the trial began, asked the judge to order the deletion of parts of the Frenchman's testimony and called for a mistrial.

Visibly frustrated, he raised his voice and said to Williams, “Do I have to bring in a Spanish exchange student” to cross-examine her?

Earlier within the trial, Maas also objected to Moore presenting further evidence of uncharged sexual offenses. However, under Section 1108 of the Evidence Code, a court may admit evidence of uncharged sexual offenses to ascertain a defendant's propensity or tendency to commit sexual offenses.

Williams denied Maas' motion for a mistrial and asked the jury to reenter the courtroom.

Maas briefly cross-examined French, who confirmed what she saw on the pool party.

The morning's prosecution witness, Todd Berry, also knew Haskell through the Mormon Church and had met him about 20 years ago during a mission in Alaska.

Moore then asked him if he remembered an incident with Haskell “that made you uncomfortable?”

In that incident, Berry said he saw Haskell grab his eldest daughter's leg “by the front part of her leg” while she was within the pool at a pool party in 2019.

“You could tell she was really uncomfortable,” he recalled.

Another time, Berry saw Haskell lying on the grass within the backyard with the eldest daughter. He lay on his side, she on hers, his front body resting against her butt and his arm wrapped round her. She “tried to escape,” but Haskell pulled her back at the least once, he said.

During the morning session, Haskell, expressionless and wearing a tan sweater over a white shirt and beige pants, kept taking notes.

The first witness of the day was the continued testimony of Jaclyn Roubenes, an worker of Solano County Child Welfare Services, which advocates for kids in need of protection from abuse and neglect.

Under cross-examination, she told Maas that she visited the Haskell home on February 3, 2022, when she conducted interviews with two of the 4 Haskell children. They were later taken out of the home for medical examination. Roubenes also said she asked the eldest daughter if she felt secure at home, and the girl replied that she did.

The adopted boy told Roubenes that he had been forced to sleep on the lavatory floor, but Maas made her admit that she had not gotten the boy and the second eldest daughter to agree that they each needed to sleep on the lavatory floor within the Haskell house.

A couple of days later, Roubenes said she learned that the eldest daughter had told an investigator that Haskell had sexually abused her. Sheriff's deputies were notified.

If convicted, Haskell faces two life sentences and must register as a sex offender.

The twelfth day of the trial continues Monday at 9:30 a.m. on the Justice Center in Fairfield.

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