A jury found an Oak Harbor man guilty of molesting two children in a case that was covered in TV news and made headlines throughout the region in 2019 because he and his wife ran a daycare facility, although no allegations emerged of anything criminal happening there.
The jury also found 53-year-old Coy Bozeman not guilty of molesting a third young child.
The Bozemans brought three girls into their home and cared for them over about six months from the fall of 2018 to spring of 2019.
The sisters were 6-, 7- and 10-years-old when the abuse occurred.
Following a trial that lasted just over two weeks, a jury in Island County Superior Court on Friday found Bozeman guilty of three counts of child molestation in the first degree and not guilty on an additional count of child molestation.
Bozeman was taken into custody after the verdict was read. His sentencing was set for March 15.
The three young girls testified at trial, as did Bozeman’s wife, a family friend who had lived in the home and Bozeman himself.
Witnesses said the three sisters had been in a small hotel room with several other people, including a mother who was suffering from heroin addiction. The girls’ grandparents asked the Bozemans, whom the girls knew from the daycare, if they could live with them for a brief time, which ended up being much longer.
In court, Deputy Prosecutor David Carman said the move to the Bozemans’ home should have been a significant improvement in the girls’ lives.
“Instead, Coy Bozeman seized the opportunity to abuse and further traumatize them,” he said.
Carman played a detective’s videotaped interviews with the girls, which were done soon after they disclosed the abuse two years ago. The girls each gave accounts of sexual abuse that occurred at different places at the home and at a hotel.
But on the stand, all three of the children had difficulty speaking about the abuse and remembering details of the crimes, with the youngest girl saying the least; Bozeman was found not guilty of molesting her.
The oldest girl’s testimony was the fullest. She described, for example, hearing Bozeman breathing heavily as he came into the bedroom she shared with her sister and shutting her eyes, wishing it would stop.
She said she slept close to the wall, hoping in vain he wouldn’t be able to reach her.
In closing arguments, Carman said the young girls’ memories faded over time and that they were intimidated by speaking in front of a group of strangers, including their abuser, about things even adults have trouble talking about.
Carman noted that the children’s memories were the clearest when the videotaped interview was done.
Bozeman, on the other hand, testified that he did not molest the girls and that he was never alone with them.
Bozeman testified about rubbing Vicks VapoRub on the girls when they were sick, saying he had them pull up their shirts and rubbed the ointment on their backs, feet and chests. He said he rubbed it on their upper chests and sternum, not breasts as one of the girls testified.
Bozeman’s wife and a woman who had been living in the house also testified that he was never alone with the children. They refuted elements of the girls’ stories.
Bozeman’s attorney, Andrew Scott, suggested in closing arguments that the girls had been coached in making the allegations, perhaps so they could return to living with a family member.
He also pointed out that the Bozemans had sought therapy for the children and had taken them to a counselor at Citizens Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse, an agency that supports and provides services to victims of sexual and domestic abuse. Scott asked who in their right mind would take children he was victimizing to a therapist trained and experienced in identifying and helping victims of sexual abuse.
Scott criticized the prosecution as a “shotgun approach,” with the charges filed so that the jury only had to believe one of many allegations presented to convict Bozeman. He also was critical of the interview of the children, saying the manner lead the children to say things that weren’t necessarily true.
“This was a rush to judgment from the start,” he said.
In the end, Carman said, the trial was about who was believable. He argued at length about the girls having no motive for making up such a story or traveling all the way from their new home across the country to testify when they didn’t have to.
“This case essentially boils down to credibility,” he said. “Who do you believe?”