The Norman Transcript

October 29, 2013

Pellebon denies allegations of sexual abuse in recording

By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — As the Dwain Pellebon jury trial entered its second week Monday, jurors listened to an audio-recorded interview conducted between Pellebon and Det. David Freudiger the night Pellebon was arrested.

Pellebon, 56, was arrested in December 2011 for child sexual abuse. He is a former social work professor at the University of Oklahoma.

The recorded interview, which lasted about two hours and 15 minutes, was done in the Pellebon’s home in Norman at their dining room table. The recording had some jurors taking notes, some listening intently and some shaking their heads.

One juror shook his head after hearing the detective ask Pellebon if he was using the phrase “sexual assault” so Pellebon could lie to him.

Pellebon replied no repeatedly to the detective during the interview and denied the allegations of sexually abusing any children.

Freudiger works in the Norman Police Department’s Children’s Victim Unit and told Pellebon during the interview that one of the girls described how Pellebon sexually abused her three different times.

Pellebon said the girl could have gotten confused by watching a movie or seeing something online, but Freudiger discredited the excuses.

The detective said when a girl is able to describe the things that happened to her and how it made her feel, “those things can’t be derived from a television show,” he told Pellebon during the interview.

Freudiger also told Pellebon the girl had displayed behavior and had acted out sexually on several occasions, which is behavior indicating sexual abuse.

Pellebon told the detective earlier during the interview of a situation involving the girl being naked in his presence, but it was only when he had to apply medical cream on her, he said.

He also told the detective that was the only time he told the girl not to tell anyone anything because people would misunderstand the situation. He told Freudiger that applying the cream was not sexual in nature.

Earlier in the interview, Pellebon described the relationships he had with other girls. He told Freudiger he thought the allegations had something to do with the way he relates to children because they had some friend drama recently arise.

Pellebon told the detective how people perceived him differently because he was so affectionate and loving toward some of the girls.

He said parents of the children he had relationships with knew what kind of relationship he had with them. He said the relationships were always in context and operating within the family’s permission.

“I would be completely shocked if any child described me as being sexual,” Pellebon said during the interview.

Pellebon told Freudiger he would show the girls affection by hugging them, giving them kisses on the face, cuddling during movies or sometimes petting them with adoration. When Freudiger asked what feelings Pellebon got from that kind of contact, Pellebon said “warm.”

“It never progressed, nor was there any intent for it (to),” Pellebon said.

He said he had steady relationships with children over time, but perceptions of those relationships has changed over time.

Pellebon said during the interview he is still friends with other girls he had been close with who he watched grow up and continues to have an adult friendship with them.

Pellebon said he can relate to children more easily and he grows closer to children more quickly than he can with adults. He said, for example, one of the victims was someone he “just liked” and someone he felt “connected to.”

“When I see (the victim), I just like her, I love her,” Pellebon said during the interview, describing their relationship as the victim being a godchild to him.

Pellebon also admitted during the interview to previously being investigated for an incident with one of his “godchildren,” as he described some of the girls. The incident involved him “cuddling” with the girl.

He said they both had their clothes on and it was not sexual in nature. He often helped the children get ready in the morning, and the mother became uncomfortable with him laying next to the child, he said, adding there were no findings in the investigation.

Pellebon also said he wouldn’t be as affectionate to some of the other girls who would visit their home because they weren’t affectionate children.

Freudiger said he saw that Pellebon had close relationships with the young girls and realized he liked to show affection to them, adding that perhaps those close relationships may have been a big temptation and asked if something ever went further than Pellebon intended it to. Pellebon replied no.

However, since one of the girls told a forensic interviewer she had been sexually abused and identified her abuser, Pellebon was arrested. Although there may not have been much physical evidence, the child’s testimony was enough.

District Judge Tracy Schumacher told the jury panel at the end of the day Monday, during the worst-case scenario, the trial would wrap up Friday. The trial is in recess until 9 a.m. today.

Jessica Bruha