Tony Cercy Trial: Another Look at When Dogs Bark
THERMOPOLIS -- If a woman had been awakened to a sexual assault by Casper businessman Tony Cercy at his house at Alcova Lake last year, her fighting him off in the living room would have caused four dogs in a nearby bedroom to bark loudly, according to his defense attorneys.
That they didn't bark while sleeping with Cercy's wife Caryl and friend Tawni Moore indicated the assault didn't happen, Moore said. This testimony came on Thursday during the fourth day of his third-degree sexual assault trial at the Hot Springs County Court House.
But if they had barked when the alleged victim awoke to a sexual assault, Natrona County District Attorney Mike Blonigen wondered why they would not have barked if she woke up on her own and opened a noisy door to leave.
Tawni Moore was among several witnesses called by the prosecution to testify including a clinical psychologist who educated the 11-woman three-man jury about sexual assault, the alleged victim's former friend Lindsey Casados who recounted what happened when she woke her up sometime between 3:30 a.m. and 3:45 a.m. June 25, and several law enforcement officers.
The case started last year when the alleged victim reported the incident.
Cercy was charged in July 2017 with one count each of first-degree sexual assault (rape), one count of second-degree sexual assault, and one count of third-degree sexual assault.
In February, a jury in Natrona County District Court acquitted him of the first two counts, but deadlocked on the third count.
District Court Judge Daniel Forgey declared a mistrial.
In March, the young woman asked and Blonigen agreed to again file the charge of third-degree sexual assault.
In June, Forgey granted the defense attorneys' request to move the trial to Hot Springs County because of the intense publicity before, during and after the first trial.
The new trial required that the whole case be presented again.
During questioning by Blonigen and defense attorney Pamela Mackey, Moore said she went to the lake on Saturday, June 24 to meet with some friends but they had to leave. Tony Cercy's wife Caryl invited her to have dinner at the Casper Boat Club. Moore had been a caregiver to the Cercy family's dogs.
After dinner, they went to the house on Cedar Drive North where a group of young people arrived followed by a group of older adults. During that time, the alleged victim, who had been drinking heavily that day, passed out on a couch, Moore said.
Efforts by some friends to rouse her were unsuccessful, and they left her there.
About 2 a.m., Caryl Cercy, Moore and the dogs retired to the master bedroom and fell asleep about 2:45 a.m. Tony Cercy went to bed in a guest bedroom because he was allergic to dogs. He said he woke up about 8 a.m. Caryl Cercy and Moore said the dogs woke them earlier, at about 5:45 a.m., because they needed to go outside.
However, the alleged victim said she was awakened even earlier than that, at about 3:15 a.m., with most of her clothes removed and Tony Cercy performing oral sex. She testified Tuesday that she pushed him away, and told other witnesses that she yelled at him and tried to hit him.
That, according to the defense, did not happen.
Moore was the only witness to tell law enforcement about the dogs not barking during the time of the alleged assault.
That was enough to prompt the defense attorneys to hire an expert in remote sensing and an expert in dog behavior who designed a script and choreography based on the alleged victim's statements who then worked with actors who re-enacted the events.
when the two actors, partially clothed, simulated the alleged event, the woman wakes up and yells at Cercy. He later picks her up in his Razor 4X4.
According to the coordinator of the re-enactment, with all these disturbances, “These dogs were going nuts.”
Moore also said that she and Caryl Cercy re-enacted that night with them falling asleep without any noise and the dogs did not bark.
Blonigen reminded Moore that in the first trial, she said the alleged victim was still at the house at 6 a.m. when the dogs woke up to be taken outside. When the dogs came inside, she then said one of them jumped on the couch and licked the alleged victim's face.
Moore, Blonigen said, repeated that to investigators, but changed her story later and apologized during her testimony.
"I didn't want to change and look (un)credible," Moore said. "I realized I made a mistake and corrected the statement in the second interview with law enforcement."
Blonigen finished the questioning by asking Moore again about the dogs.
Moore and Mackey previously showed the jury drawings of the exterior and interior of the house.
Blonigen picked up on that and said the house had only two doors -- a screen door and a sliding door -- and Moore said they both would have been loud when opened.
So if the dogs would have barked if the alleged sexual assault occurred, Blonigen then asked why they would not have barked when the alleged victim left the house when everyone was asleep.
"Did she go out the chimney?" he asked.
The trial resumes Friday, and K2Radio.com will provide updates.