A nurse who specializes in sexual-assault forensics testified Monday that the woman who is accusing longtime local resident Peter Nardi had injuries that were consistent with a suffocation attempt as well as forms of sexual and physical abuse.
The nurse, Kelley Hill, is a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner who works on a contract basis for Aspen Valley Hospital and other Colorado healthcare facilities. She examined the Texas woman on April 6, 2013, a few hours after the alleged incident.
“I examined her personally,” said Hill. “She was occasionally tearful, but calm at times.”
Hill took photographs that day that were entered as evidence in Nardi’s trial, which started a week ago and is scheduled to run through Friday. Nardi, 51, a former Aspen bartender, is on trial for two felonies, sexual assault and attempted assault, as well as two misdemeanors. The woman has testified that she and Nardi dated for about eight months beginning in August 2012, and that he showed a pattern of controlling behavior, jealousy and verbal abuse, which later evolved into a few instances of physical abuse.
Hill’s pictures were shown to the jury. They depicted red marks on the back of the woman’s neck near the hairline as well as on the left side of the neck. There also were photos of marks on the right forearm, an abrasion on a finger on the left hand and a cut to a finger on the right hand. She also described other bruising.
The woman has said she blacked out during part of her ordeal at Nardi’s hands. Hill, an expert witness for the prosecution, said passing out could have been caused by a suffocation attempt. The alleged victim previously testified that Nardi held a pillow over her face as he abused her repeatedly for around six hours after she returned to her apartment from a party.
During a suffocation attempt, oxygen to the brain is cut off, which could have caused the woman to pass out. Suffocation can cause death or long-term injury, Hill testified.
Hill was starting to explain her findings concerning the alleged sexual abuse, noting red marks and tender areas, when District Judge Gail Nichols cut the testimony short as it was getting late in the day. The trial resumes today at 8:30 a.m.
Hill also provided a narrative of the events surrounding the alleged abuse that the woman recalled at the hospital. It appeared to closely match the woman’s oral testimony provided to jurors in open court last week.
Also on the stand Monday on behalf of the prosecution was Jean McAllister, recognized as an expert on sexual assault and victim trauma. She is a board member of the Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center.
As a “blind witness” who claimed to have no knowledge of Nardi’s case, McAllister spoke generally about sexual-abuse patterns relying on data stemming from many years of research.
She said that within intimate male-female relationships, women are far more likely to be sexually or physically abused than men, although she had dealt with cases in which the man was the victim.
McAllister said domestic abuse usually involves a pattern of behavior to establish power and control over another person. It can involve emotional and psychological abuse, threats involving financial control, harm to other people the victim cares about, threats to victim’s reputation and cutting off contact with a person’s support systems, such as friends and family.
It also can involve stalking a person, following them or trying to keep some kind of control over the other person on a regular basis. Offenders often act differently in public than in private settings, so spotting a sex offender “on the street” is highly unlikely.
The victim has testified that Nardi aggressively sought to control her whereabouts, asking her to text him with photographs of where she was hanging out, even when she was in Texas and he was in Colorado. He also sought to limit her conversations and social activities, even when she was interacting with his friends and acquaintances.
A common misperception in society is that there is a lot of false reporting of sexual assault, McAllister said.
“We find that false reports are very rare, and they are almost always about strangers,” she said.