Motivation

Former Seattle Impact soccer owner Dion Earl insists women had ‘motivation’ to target him and lie about sexual assaults – Seattle Times

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PHOENIX — Former Seattle Impact indoor soccer owner Dion Earl insisted Tuesday that five women from two states and a Lyft driver that testified against him here at his sexual assault trial are all lying.

Earl, 47, spent the morning wrapping up his testimony, proclaiming its “absolute truth” and his total innocence in a case where two babysitters say he molested and groped them in separate 2017 incidents while at his Mesa, Ariz., home to babysit his children. But during afternoon cross-examination, Maricopa County prosecutor Yigael Cohen highlighted numerous inconsistencies between Earl’s testimony and the statements he initially gave to police.

Bolstering the prosecution’s case throughout the two-week jury trial, for which closing arguments begin Wednesday, was an earlier ruling allowing two former Impact dance team members testify about their 2014 sexual assault allegations against Earl that were never prosecuted by King County. Also, a former nanny to Earl’s children was allowed to testify about a trip to Las Vegas in which she accused Earl of molesting her but also resulted in no criminal charges being filed.

During Tuesday’s cross-examination by Cohen, Earl was asked whether he still maintains that all five women came into court and lied under oath about separate incidents of assault.

“Yeah,’’ Earl replied. “I have no motivation other than to tell the truth. They have every motivation…’’

Earl was cut off by a sustained Cohen objection before he could continue.

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Throughout the trial, Earl, who commuted between residences in Kent and Mesa, and defense lawyer Jesus Acosta have dropped strong hints about the women having financial motives. But other than noting two lawsuits filed against Earl by four of the five women involved – in which default judgments have been issued but not collected on from him — and bringing in a phone specialist to speculate about missing text messages that may or may not exist between Earl and the babysitters, they’ve offered little else to support a theory of financially-motivated perjury.

Instead, Earl on Tuesday suggested his short-lived ownership of the Kent-based Impact and status as a professional Seattle soccer player with the Sea Dogs indoor team and a partial season with the 1990s “A-League” version of the Sounders makes him a potential target.

“Yeah, it put me heavily in the media,’’ Earl said after prodding from Acosta. “You just have to punch in my name and boom! My life is an open notebook online.’’

Earl suggested Tuesday the Arizona babysitters, ages 18 and 21 at the time, lied about incidents six weeks apart in September and October of 2017 that led to his arrest and trial. He said the younger babysitter from the second incident, who’d worked for him several times prior without incident, suddenly lay down next to him in bed and then – out of the blue — kissed him and grabbed his penis beneath his shorts briefly before getting up to leave so she could “go to church’’ just as abruptly.

“It just happened,’’ he testified. “She rolled on top of me and we kissed. And it was not a peck.’’

Later, under cross-examination, Earl said the babysitter – whose father was inside the courtroom watching the testimony with a stone-faced stare – wasn’t “as innocent as she made herself out to be.’’

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Earl added the entire episode unfolded too quickly to prevent it and that he’d returned the kiss.

“I kissed her back, yeah,’’ he said. “She’s kissing me. She’s got her tongue down my throat. I kissed her back, yeah.’’

But when she abruptly ended the interlude, he said he immediately regretted it. “I was disappointed in myself and I was embarrassed. I thought she was making fun of me.’’

Cohen also pressed Earl on inconsistencies surrounding the earlier September 2017 incident, in which the older babysitter testified a naked Earl forcibly pinned her on a bed his children were asleep in and molested her. Earl replied that he’d been “confused” immediately following his arrest about the identity of the woman making those allegations, though a transcript of his police interrogation shown to him by Cohen states this was clarified early on.

Earl has also denied ever approaching a Lyft driver who’d picked the babysitter up outside his home following the alleged assault. The driver has testified Earl offered him money to keep quiet but that he instead phoned police after dropping the woman off because she seemed distraught.

“He lied under oath,’’ Earl said Tuesday.

When Cohen asked Earl whether he’d known the driver beforehand, he replied that he hadn’t.

“And yet, he came into this courtroom and lied?’’ Cohen asked. “That’s your testimony?’’

To which Earl replied: “That’s something he’ll have to live with.’’

Once this trial ends, Earl also faces a second-degree rape charge in a decade-old Kirkland case, as well as federal charges for orchestrating a $1.3 million tax fraud involving the Impact and his other businesses.

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