Expert’s take on Linda David story


Herald Writer

Linda David’s inconsistent statements about how she received many injuries could be the result of something called "traumatic bonding," a psychologist testified Friday.

What a Snohomish County Superior Court jury heard was a hypothetical account of how the 52-year-old woman could say one moment that her husband beat her and the next explain that she simply fell and hurt herself.

The testimony came in the final day of witnesses in the second-degree assault trial of Victor David, 60, who is accused of abusing his wife for years on a filthy sailboat that was moved from location to location.

Lawyers are scheduled to make final arguments to the jury on Monday. The trial has been under way three weeks.

The defense has painted Linda David as a woman with medical problems, some that make her prone to lose balance or protect herself when falling. Prosecutors say it was Victor David who is responsible for scars, cauliflowered ears, arms twisted by untreated fractures and her eyes rendered almost blind.

Although Linda David testified during the trial that her husband hurt her, she frequently told conflicting stories to investigators and social workers. In a pretrial hearing out of the presence of the jury, she first said that her husband hurt her and then said the injuries were accidents.

On Friday Dr. Donald Dutton, a psychologist from the University of British Columbia and an expert in treating domestic violence victims, testified that social isolation, one partner dominating the relationship, and good and bad treatment from the dominating partner are "risk markers" for battering.

He said that battered women vary in their ability to recall or their willingness to disclose information about their abusers.

In answering deputy prosecutor Kathy Patterson’s questions, he described traumatic bonding as a condition similar to Stockholm syndrome, the bond that sometimes develops between a captor and a captive. The term was developed from the case of a person held hostage at a bank in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1973.

Dutton answered hypothetical questions describing conditions under which Linda David lived and her inconsistent statements.

"In my work, that would be an indicator of potential traumatic bonding," Dutton told the jury.

Defense attorney Bryan Hershman attacked scientific studies that helped Dutton arrive at his conclusions. He also pointed out that the psychologist received $25,000 for his work in a civil case that the state recently settled and another $6,000 for his testimony Friday.

He testified that his payment was in American dollars, not Canadian.

"Doctor, do you have 31,000 reasons, American, to give testimony in this case?" Hershman asked.

The woman was found in January 1997 in the couple’s sailboat that was then moored near the mouth of the Snohomish River. They had lived on the boat previously in Pierce and King counties.

The boat was littered with trash and feces from seven German shepherds that also lived aboard. When firefighters and police were called, Linda David was dressed in dirty clothing and was too weak to move from a bunk.

Other witnesses testified that many of the injuries she sustained happened since they last saw her in the mid-1990s.

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