Mother fighting system, system dismisses her claims about child sex abuse
By Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
Ben Furtado/Auburn Journal
Connie Bedwell said she is “exhausted” with Placer County’s legal system to the point where she has filmed and released a video of her 3-year -old daughter talking about sexual abuse from her father. Bedwell said she is fighting for her daughter’s safety. Authorities say the father has been cleared of any wrongdoing.
A disturbing video on the Internet involving alleged sexual abuse with a 3-year-old Placer County girl is drawing national attention.
Aaliyah Bedwell, who was born in Auburn, is the focus of a home video during which she talks about instances that strongly suggest she is the victim of sexual abuse.
Her mother, Connie Bedwell, says she recorded the video because it is just one of many scenarios in which her daughter has made extremely upsetting comments regarding her father.
The parents are separated and a judge has given the father full custody of his daughter.
Currently, Bedwell can only see her daughter during supervised visits.
When asked why, Bedwell did not elaborate but said that many officials do not believe her story.
She said the video was a way to prove her story. It has since been distributed via e-mail and posted on YouTube. Bedwell said more than 4,000 people have viewed it and a handful of online blog sites are writing about the video.
Over the past two weeks, the Journal has received several letters from readers locally and nationwide, asking for more information and investigation into the video.
Lo ri Bond of Roseville wrote that she loves her community but cannot stand behind it if this kind of abuse is truly happening.
“It’s time for the courts, the PD and the local newspaper to stand up!” Bond wrote.
Bedwell says she is frustrated with the Placer Court system and law enforcement because she feels as though no one is taking her concerns seriously.
“I’m fighting a town that’s calling me delusional because of people’s lack of doing their jobs,” Bedwell said.
However, law-enforcement reports and court documents suggest Aaliyah’s father is not committing the crime Bedwell is accusing him of.
Victor Pecoraro, Auburn Police detective sergeant, said the department immediately investigated Aaliyah’s welfare after watching Bedwell’s video. The toddler was interviewed by a team of trained specialists and investigators questioned the father. He said the video is only a “piece of the puzzle.”
“This case was investigated by the normal protocol for any suspected child abuse in our county,” Pecoraro said. “After weeding through the information we had at the time, some of the allegations were unfounded and others eventually dismissed through the DA’s Office because there was insufficient evidence.”
The case has since been closed, Pecoraro said, and the father has been cleared as a suspect.
“A lot of time and energy and effort was put into it to make sure that young girl was safe,” Pecoraro said.
A search of court records did not reveal a criminal case in Placer County. There is civil case filed against Connie Bedwell by Aaliyah’s father, Dustin Thompson. The document was not available to view this week, but it appears to be a temporary restraining order filed against Bedwell.
When Bedwell met with the Journal to tell her side of the story, she said she and Thompson had been dating off and on for a number of years. They met when they both attended Placer High School and both graduated in 2001, Bedwell said. Bedwell lived in Auburn for about two years and now lives in Roseville.
She said initially, Thompson claimed Aaliyah was not his daughter and refused to add his name to her birth certificate. A copy of the certificate obtained by the Journal lists Bedwell as Aaliyah’s mother but no one is listed as the father.
Ever since Thompson was given custody, Bedwell said she has noticed changes in her daughter’s behavior. She said she has also noticed bruises on Aaliyah’s arms and back, and a rash around her mouth.
Bedwell said in June of last year, Aaliyah started talking about sexual abuse.
“It’s the hardest thing to hear,” Connie Bedwell said. “I was trying not to cry because I don’t want her to feel it’ s wrong to tell me.”
Bedwell said officials tell her they believe she is coaching her daughter to say her father is sexually abusing her. Bedwell said after Aaliyah’s interview with trained specialists, she was told that Aaliyah told them “mommy makes me say these things.”
Bedwell argues that her daughter had been in her father’s care prior to the interview and that he had a chance to tell Aaliyah what to say. She added that she cannot afford an attorney, which she says has made it difficult to defend her case.
“He tries to confuse her because of what he’s doing to her,” Connie Bedwell said.
She adamantly refutes any claim that she is telling her daughter to say anything.
“I’m fighting for my daughter – I’m her advocate,” Bedwell said. “What kind of mother would I be if I didn’t fight for her?”
The Journal was unable to contact Aaliyah’s father for this story.