Editor’s note: This report contains graphic content that some readers may find disturbing.
The oldest of three victims who have accused former Humboldt County corrections deputy Cory Fisher of sexual abuse took the stand on day one of testimony in Fisher’s trial on Thursday.
Fisher is facing 13 charges related to the sexual abuse of children as well as the sexual abuse of inmates at the county jail while he was an employee.
Following opening statements from Deputy District Attorney Stacey Eads and Fisher’s defense counsel Deputy Conflict Counsel David Lee, John Doe 1 — now 24 years old — took the stand to testify about the physical and sexual abuse he said took place from 2006 to 2009.
John Doe 1 appeared in court wearing dark slacks, a button-down checkered shirt and with his hair cut to military standards. He currently serves in the Army.
Responding to questions from Eads, John Doe 1 testified the abuse began after his mother and Fisher married. They had moved into a house on Williams Street in Eureka, the first of three residences they would share.
John Doe 1 said the abuse began with Fisher molesting him as Fisher put John Doe 1 and his younger brother, John Doe 2, to bed. The two brothers shared a bunk bed and John Doe 1 said he was on the bottom bunk. John Doe 1 testified Fisher pulled down his pants exposing his genitals and began to masturbate, grabbing John Doe 1’s hand and placing it on his genitals.
“From there he gestured for me to fondle him,” John Doe 1 testified.
He said the abuse would happen sometimes twice a week and that it always occurred after his mother was already asleep or not at home.
“I felt immediately threatened,” John Doe 1 said in response to a question from Eads about what he was feeling at the time, at one point adding that the home was a “hostile environment.”
He testified the abuse started as forced masturbation and escalated into forced oral copulation. At one point, his testimony described Fisher abusing him while his younger brother was in the bunk overhead.
“I remember because I grabbed hand sanitizer and tried to wash my mouth,” he testified.
Eads asked John Doe 1 to describe how Fisher abused him. John Doe 1 detailed repeated instances of sexual abuse and later described physical abuse when Fisher became angry, including Fisher punching, manhandling and using a stun gun on him in a store.
John Doe 1 testified that the incidents escalated in nature over time.
At one point, John Doe 1 said Fisher attempted to sodomize him. Following that incident, John Doe 1 first threatened to tell his mother. He testified, at that point, the nature of the abuse then changed. Fisher would forcefully orally copulate him and even forced John Doe 1 to sodomize him on one occasion.
“Every one of these encounters was against my will,” John Doe 1 responded and then described a camping trip in which he and Fisher were alone in Big Lagoon. He said Fisher fed him alcohol and then forcefully orally copulated him in the tent that night.
When Eads asked if Fisher had said anything, John Doe 1 said Fisher told him, “‘Your mother never has to know if we do this.’”
“I was in such an emotional state,” John Doe 1 said.
He said the abuse led him to stay in his room playing video games because Fisher wouldn’t allow him to go out with friends or on a date unless Fisher “got to do something,” he testified. Fisher would threaten him with punishment if he did not agree, or he threatened him with losing the home they shared.
“‘If you tell your mom, you’ll be homeless again,’” John Doe 1 said Fisher told him, adding that once Fisher became a corrections deputy and started working nights, life became easier because Fisher wasn’t around.
John Doe 1 said as he got older, the incidents were less frequent. The abuse ended, he testified, when he joined the Army.
Before leaving home for military service, John Doe 1 testified, he warned Fisher that if he learned Fisher abused his brother, John Doe 2, “I would end his life.”
John Doe 1 met his wife after enlisting and they now have a son of their own. He said the pressures of fatherhood, marriage and being deployed in a combat zone spurred him to tell someone other than his wife about the abuse.
Those people included his unit’s chaplain and then his mother. It was by telling his mother that a criminal investigation was opened by Eureka Police Department Detective Ron Harpham.
Day one of testimony ended with Lee beginning his cross-examination of John Doe 1. The trial resumes Friday morning at 9 a.m. in Courtroom 1.
Dan Squier can be reached at 707-441-0520.