On Monday, January 28th, Carolyn Velez (now 20 years old) took the witness stand in the trial of Paul Bergrin. She explained to the federal jury how in the early 2000s, when she was only 9 years old, Bergrin had helped to isolate, frighten, and coerce her into lying about her father’s stabbing of her mother.
Velez testified that in the months leading up to her testifying as a critical witness in her father’s trial, Bergrin showered her with gifts and outings – he took her to “the big toy store” in NYC where he bought her a doll, took her to see Finding Nemo, and took her on a carriage ride in NYC. During this time, he coached her to paint her mother as a violent and unstable woman. “He told me that this was a case where you couldn’t tell the truth….that you have to lie.”
Notably, based in large part on Velez’s purported false testimony at her father’s trial, he did win an acquittal on the Attempted Murder charge.
Bergrin’s cross-examination of Velez began on Monday afternoon and concluded yesterday. On Monday, he got Velez to admit to some inconsistencies in the statement she recently gave to federal authorities which she never corrected. Yesterday, he was able to play a portion of a videotaped interview that Velez gave in 2003 during which she admitted that she gave the alleged false testimony not because of Bergrin, but because her father would have “tried to kill himself” if he wasn’t acquitted.
Although Velez clearly gave some answers from the witness stand that Bergrin wasn’t pleased with, the video was a key moment for his defense on this particular Witness Tamperingcharge.
For more information, see the Star Ledger article entitled, “Bergrin cross-examines accuser who claims he coerced her into lying as a child.”