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Boy, 15, Testifies of Abuse

Courts: Yorba Linda teen takes stand in felony case against parents. Defense attorney calls him a liar.

June 28, 2002|MAI TRAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Yorba Linda teenager on Thursday recounted four years of what he says was physical and mental abuse at the hands of his father and stepmother.

Prosecutors have charged Grady Machnick, a sergeant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and Deborah Machnick, a former elementary school principal, with felony child abuse.

The Machnicks have strongly denied any wrongdoing. Their attorney, John Barnett, has said he will prove that the Machnicks were simply disciplining their 15-year-old son and did not commit any criminal acts. He also described the boy as a compulsive liar who needed strong discipline because he threatened his stepmother and often misbehaved.

The boy testified at a preliminary hearing in which a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence for a trial.

The teen said his stepmother made him pose for nude photographs and smeared dog feces on his backpack.

In one case, he said, he sneaked out of the house one night and mistakenly left the back door open. As punishment, he said, his stepmother told him to take off all his clothes and photographed him. She allegedly threatened to post the photos at his school and made fun of his anatomy.

The teen said his father threw him against the wall and spanked him for lying.

However, Barnett said that the boy, who is now living with foster parents, was not fully forthcoming about his own actions. In cross-examination, the boy acknowledged that he stole food from a grocery store, didn't always do his homework and lied to his parents.

"He is a compulsive liar and a compulsive thief," Barnett said.

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