Violations of justice, witness tampering, ethics violations, etc.

All of the following case issues stem from the fact that an innocent man, Richard Ross, was first accused of one instance of inappropriately touching an 9-year-old girl and her 7-year-old step-sister. However, the girls’ parents refused to let the police perform standard tests to verify what the girls claimed. 

After nine days went by, the girls’ stories grew to allege more victims (including girls Richard Ross had never met) and sexual acts so heinous that they would have caused permanent bodily injury to the girls. Yet, again, they refused to allow standard physical exams that would verify or disprove their allegations. Then, with no evidence, just the stories made up by the girls, Richard Ross was given eight 15-to-life sentences plus 17 years, for a total of 137 years-to-life in prison. He is innocent.

Guilty Because You Aren’t Allowed To Prove Innocence

As soon as sheriff’s deputies showed up at his door, responding to a call by the parents of Hannah Cruz and Breanna Long, Richard Ross told the officers that he was absolutely innocent—that he had NEVER touched the girls inappropriately. He immediately requested for DNA evidence to be collected (2-CT-320). In fact, the mobile S.A.R.T. and C.P.S. came with the sheriff’s department to the initial complaint call (which is standard procedure for these types of complaints) ready and expecting to do an evidence search and physical exam.

Unbelievably, the girls and their parents all refused the simple five-minute procedure knowing it would expose their lies (2-CT-373). Instead of allowing the DNA test and examination that could have clearly shown evidence of the inappropriate touching that the girls had alleged, the girls’ parents, Allan Long and Melissa Long, didn’t send the girls to school that day but instead sent the girls to go swimming in a public pool(!) with their aunt (1-CT-373; 2-CT-373; 4-RT-621) while the parents themselves went to file charges and a restraining order on Richard Ross, a man they admittedly disliked (4-RT-623-624).

Delayed Interviews, Tempered Stories

Though forensic interviews and physical exams are supposed to be collected within 72 hours of any allegations, law-enforcement let both girls, Hannah Cruz and Breanna Long, talk over their stories with her parents for nine days. By time they were finally interviewed by Mrs. Schultz, a licensed social worker at the Palomar Children’s Hospital, the girls’ stories had grown from just an inappropriate touch on Hannah Cruz to violent penetration of both girls.

No Proof Needed To Arrest and Convict

The sheriff who responded to the initial complaint stated that he would not arrest Richard Ross because “there was no proof of a crime,” yet Richard Ross was arrested nine days later, still with no proof of a crime. He was then convicted and sentenced to life in prison—still with no proof of a crime.

Making Time To Coach The “Victims”

Though Tami Riser had 50/50 custody of her daughter Breanna Long, and it was her week to have Breanna, her father, Allan Long (also stepfather of Hannah Cruz), insisted on removing Breanna Long from Tami and Richard’s home. Instead, Allan Long kept both girls with him and his wife Melissa Long where the girls were coached for nine days about what to say to the police.

Breanna Retold A Story, Says Social Worker

During her forensic interview, Breanna Long’s story grew from the original allegation. Nine days of discussion with her dad and stepmom helped her create some particularly outlandish stories. Her interviewer, Mrs. Schultz, said that Breanna’s statements were as if she had been told about the situations, not that she had actually experienced them herself. (3-RT-362, 372; 2-CT-317-318).

Breanna’s Lies Hidden On Videos Shown To Jury

During her forensic interview, Breanna Long claimed that Richard Ross had also molested several of her friends—some of whom Mr. Ross had never even met! No deposition was ever done of these supposed “victims” because Breanna’s testimony was deemed non-credible by the forensic interviewer. Public Defender Euketa Oliver never called these friends of Breanna as witnesses to simply prove Breanna Long was lying. Instead, Breanna Long’s statements about many other friends supposedly being molested by Richard Ross were cut out of her video testimonies and out of the transcripts for those videos so that the jury wouldn’t see that she had lied.

Hannah Cruz Not Believed By Social Worker and Prosecutor; Lies Hidden From Jury

During her forensic interview, Hannah Cruz claimed that Richard Ross had abused her many times in the past, something she had never originally told the police but was clearly adding after being with her mother and stepfather Melissa and Allan Long for nine days. These statements were so preposterous that neither the seasoned social worker Mrs. Schultz nor the prosecutor Marisa DiTillo believed her. Rather than have to show evidence of Hannah’s lies in court, Prosecutor DiTillo opted not to file charges against Richard Ross for the allegations (3-RT-362; 1-CT-138-144).

Hannah Cruz’s Lies Revealed By Credible Witness

Hannah Cruz also lied claiming that she had told Tami Riser that she had been abused by Richard Ross in the past (2-CT-318), but under oath, Tami Riser stated that Hannah Cruz had never told her any such thing (2-CT-338)

Judge Asks, “Aren’t We Over-Charging This?”

Prior to trial, with only six initial charges brought against him, Richard Ross constantly claimed his innocence. However, once he hired an attorney, the assistant DA leveled more than 130 charges at him. At a hearing where Richard Ross asked the judge to dismiss his case which had so obviously been fabricated, the judge realized what had been done and asked, “Aren’t we over-charging this?”

“Don’t Speculate”—We’ve Done That For You

Prosecutor Marisa DiTillo instructed the jury not to speculate about what DNA or a physical exam may have shown—proof that the girls lied, for example—and to only decide the case “based on what we have, what happened”, as if the girls’ testimony which had already been called into question was indisputable fact. (3-RT-576).

Judge Breaks The Law, Commits A “Brady Violation”

No evidence of any improper behavior or alleged crimes was obtained from any of Richard Ross’ electronics including his cell phone, laptop, computer and camera, as well as any of his personal photographs. No DNA or other physical evidence was ever obtained that would have also corroborated his innocence. When the state fails to produce evidence, the law requires that the jury be instructed that they can consider this failure as an indication of innocence and that it may itself be sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt about the defendant’s guilt (People v. Wimberley (1992) 5 Cal. App. 4th 773-793). However, the judge never told the jury this because defense attorney Euketa Oliver never challenged it. This type of withholding of evidence beneficial to a defendant is known as a “Brady Violation.”

“We Don’t Need Evidence,” Says Prosecutor

In closing arguments, prosecutor Marisa DiTillo stated, “We don’t need evidence! They should just say it happened and that should be enough!” Yet actual physical evidence that was available through a simple exam and DNA test was never obtained as requested and required by law and protocol, while evidence of lies through contradictions, the alleged “victims” constantly changing statements, and manipulated clothing evidence were all intentionally ignored.

Suggestibility Committed

Breanna Long testified that her father, Allan Long, had constantly, over a long period of time before May 21, 2012, asked Hannah and Breanna if Richard Ross ever touched them inappropriately (2-RT-132, 293). This is known as “suggestibility,” which was explained by social workers during trial as “information that is given to a child within the question itself” (3 RT 369-370). This can influence children and lead to inaccurate information. (3-RT-370). The girls had always answered “no” until the day Hannah knew she was about to get in trouble for running away again. Allan Long and Breanna Long also testified that Hannah lied often (1-CT-189; 2-RT-292).

Suggestibility Hidden

Even though such blatant suggestibility is normally pointed out by the defendant’s attorney by means of an expert witness in child psychology, this simple task was not done by Richard Ross’ public defender Euketa Oliver.​

Believability Issues Ignored

Though both accusers were found questionable by trained child psychologists during their forensic interviews, prosecutor Marisa DiTillo still filed charges against Richard Ross on their behalf with no corroborating physical evidence.

Evidence Tampered With To Match “Victim’s” Lies

In their original report, police noted that Hannah Cruz was wearing black leggings (2-RT-195). However, during the forensic interviews, Hannah Cruz stated that Richard Ross tried to take off her purple skinny jeans “by the belt loops” or “the hooks” of her pants (2-RT-186, 204; 1-CT-117, 120) which the leggings didn’t have. So by the time the trial started, the black leggings with an elastic waistband were replaced in “official evidence” photos by a pair of purple pants…with belt loops.

Detective Plays Medical Expert, Contradicted By Medical Doctor, 2nd Social Worker

Even though the girls’ outlandish accusations eventually included prolonged rape and penetration with foreign objects (activity that would have been either physically impossible or would have left permanent damage and scarring according to the expert testimony), Detective Dustin Lopez refused the second part of the forensic interviews (physical examination used to corroborate or impeach testimony from the interviews) two separate times (2-RT-313, 324). He testified that finding any “touch DNA” or physical findings was “limited,” though bruising, scratching or cuts could still have been revealed in a physical exam (2-RT-313, 320, 321)Lopez stated that he didn’t want to send the girls for medical exams if there would be no findings (2-RT-313)Social Worker Mrs. Schultz soundly disagreed with him, stating that child claims of penetration can still be medically verified through physical examination months or even years after the interview (3-RT-366-368). Doctor and child abuse specialist Steven C. Gabaeff stated that these egregious allegations are virtually 100% likely to leave permanent damage to the genitalia in the child that can be seen for years after the alleged acts occurred, up to vaginal childbirth (declaration of Dr. Steven C. Gabaeff, MD, FAAEM, FACEP, AMAAFS).

Selective Detective

While Richard Ross begged for Detective Dustin Lopez to simply do his job and collect available physical evidence proving that the accusations were all false, Detective Dustin Lopez chose to only document the girls’ changing and growing stories but not gather physical evidence and DNA through exams recommended by the Palomar child abuse forensic team (3-RT-368), that would have proven Richard Ross innocent. This is as if a person falsely claims that their house has burned down, and detectives refuse to let the undamaged home be examined or photographed despite the insurance company’s claims that there was no fire in the neighborhood.

Jury Pool Bias 

One potential juror, who herself had been abused as a child, was repeatedly pressured by Judge So to join the jury until she was in tears, all the while still proclaiming that she could not give Richard Ross a fair trial. She was finally dismissed from the jury selection process when it was apparent that she would not cave to the court’s badgering.

Detective Over-Familiarity

After the trial, detective Dustin Lopez posted comments on Tami Riser’s Facebook page, celebrating how “We got him!” referring to Richard Ross.

Karina Kueker

When the experts found Breanna and Hannah to be non-credible witnesses, the district attorney decided to have Breanna’s cousin, Karina Kueker interviewed. She had only been around Richard Ross one time when she and her cousin Breanna waited at his house for an hour after school one day. What followed was a video interview so hostile, so clearly coercive in order to get Karina to say what detectives wanted her to say (that she was supposedly a victim) that the prosecutor decided not to use the video in court. Instead, they waited until Karina was 18 and called her as a witness. By then, she was willing to say whatever the prosecution needed her to say, that Richard Ross had supposedly acted inappropriately with her, too.

Breanna Long’s Storyline Flip-Flops

On May 21, 2012, seven-year-old Breanna Long told the truth. May 21, 2012 was the date that the Sheriff’s Department was initially called because Breanna’s step-sister, Hannah Cruz, claimed Richard Ross had inappropriately touched her. At the scene, Breanna responded honestly to her dad and step-mom’s questions, letting them know that she had never been touched inappropriately, molested, or abused in any way by her mother’s boyfriend, Richard Ross.

However, her dad and stepmother, Allan and Melissa Long, kept probing the young girl with persistent questions, insisting that Richard Ross must have touched her. Eventually, Breanna Long caved to the pressure and stated that Richard Ross had touched her, but of course she couldn’t give specifics. Content with Breanna’s eventual statement, Allan and Melissa Long took the seven-year-old from her mother (who had custody at that time), sent her to a public swimming pool with her half-sister Hannah, then kept both girls at their house until the police interviewed the girls nine days later, on May 30, 2012. At first, Hannah testified that neither the girls nor their parents talked about the allegations, but corrected her story later, revealing that both Allan and Melissa Long had immediately, in the car, asked Breanna if Richard Ross had ever touched her (1-CT-144; 3-RT-424-425).

After nine days with these two—who admitted in court that they disliked Richard Ross—Breanna Long was interviewed by an experienced licensed children’s social worker. In the brief time since Breanna had first said she hadn’t been touched inappropriately and finally said she had, Breanna’s story magically grew. The video interview shows her looking down, not making eye contact with the interviewer while she quickly rattles off allegations so heinous, severe, and repetitive, that it would have been impossible for her to endure them without sustaining major physical trauma, according to an expert witness (see deposition of Dr. Steven C. Gabaeff). 

Then, at Richard Ross’ Preliminary Hearing, Breanna Long changed her story yet again, this time returning to the truth. In response to direct questions, she stated six different times that Richard Ross had in fact never penetrated her with anything, ever. Unbelievably, the judge chose to ignore this clearly exculpatory evidence, saying that Breanna Long must be “confused” and remanding Richard Ross for trial based solely on the version of Breanna’s ever-changing story she preferred.

Then, during Richard Ross’ trial, Breanna Long’s story changed one final time. this time, the prosecutor didn’t risk interviewing Breanna again. She claimed violent sexual acts were performed on her from the time she was five years old, using terminology no seven-year-old would be familiar with. However, she couldn’t recall any times, dates, or places these horrific deeds supposedly took place, nor could she even describe what exactly had somehow been done to her. It was also evident to the seasoned interviewer, Christina Schultz, that Breanna had not actually experienced the events she talked about, but that she had either heard others talking about such things or that she had been directly told about them. (3-RT-362, 372). Ms. Schultz asked Breanna if all the things she said had happened to her or was she told those things happened. At that point in the interview, Breanna looked up at Ms. Schultz and responded, “Oh, no, my mom told me.”

Hannah Cruz’s Growing Fabrications

On May 21, 2012, to divert her parents’ attention from the fact that she’d tried to run away again, nine-year-old Hannah Cruz made the false claim that Richard Ross had touched her inappropriately. For Hannah, a habitual liar, it was an easy lie: her mom and stepdad, Melissa and Allan Long, greatly disliked Richard Ross. Also, when Hannah’s step-sister Breanna would return from spending time at her mom’s apartment that she shared with Richard Ross, Allan would frequently ask seven-year-old Breanna if Richard Ross had touched her.

Nine days after Hannah Cruz made her first claim, alleging inappropriate touch, she was ready for her forensic interview with licensed children’s social worker Christina Schultz. In the interview, Hannah brazenly expanded her initial claim to now include that, during a brief window of time when she had visited her step-sister Breanna, Richard Ross had supposedly also exposed himself to her—yet incredibly, her sister was not aware of it. This and other fabrications made the veteran interviewer deem Hannah to not be credible. In fact, during Hannah Cruz’s forensic interview, social worker Schultz was often confused over the hints of suggestions (see “suggestibility”) and because of Hannah’s inconsistent statements (1-CT-131, 141)

Incredibly, Hannah Cruz kept adding to her story, claiming that Richard Ross had touched her on other previous occasions (1-CT-137, 139-140). At first, she stated that she hadn’t told anyone about this supposed history of abuse, but then she changed her story to say she’d told Breanna’s mother, Tami Riser, about it (1-CT-141; 2-CT-318). Of course, that was proven to be a lie when Tami Riser was cross-examined and flatly denied that Hannah had ever told her any such thing (2-CT-338). Proof of Hannah Cruz’s lies didn’t result in her perjuring herself though. No one seemed to care that her habit of lying now included lying to the authorities. Instead, the parts of her interview that were deemed “not believable” by prosecutor Marisa DiTillo were simply cut from the record so the jury couldn’t see them. Additionally, the prosecutor chose to press charges for some of Hannah’s unsubstantiated claims, but not press charges for the claims that were too far-fetched for a reasonable person to believe, including her impossible claim that Richard Ross had abused her on previous occasions, when he was never even alone with her (2-CT-318).

Both Breanna Long and Hannah Cruz had serious credibility issues, as proven at trial by the many inconsistencies in their stories (2-RT-121-125, 174, 182, 184, 187-189, 195). This kind of extreme testimonial flaw in children are indicative of “suggestibility” (3-RT-362, 369, 372, 396).

The girls’ parents made certain that no physical evidence was collected from either girl, evidence that is necessary in order to either prove the girls were telling the truth or prove that they were telling lies (2-RT-255, 293, 306).