Children testify in Fraga trial
WORTHINGTON — In a tearful testimony Thursday, Josue Fraga’s only daughter testified to a pattern of sexual abuse.
In the fourth day of the retrial of Fraga — who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 2-year-old niece, Samantha — his now 17-year-old daughter and oldest son were two of the seven witnesses who took the stand.
Since the time she was very young, the daughter said, Fraga had forced her to have sex with him. Meanwhile, the oldest son, Josue David, admitted he had touched and fondled his young cousin.
When asked how many times that happened, Josue David responded, “20 or 30 times.” In previous testimony, he had said he hadn’t touched his cousin sexually.
“At that time I thought I’d get in trouble for it,” he said.
Josue David successfully completed treatment, and it was during a session with a therapist when he first found out he was being blamed for Samantha’s death.
“I hate it,” Josue David said. “That’s to put it lightly. I don’t like the fact they are trying to put the blame on me. It infuriates me.”
Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Bill Klumpp explained that Josue David was appearing with an immunity grant, which means that nothing he says can be used against him in further court proceedings.
“Did you do anything to cause Samantha’s death?” Klumpp asked.
“No,” Josue David responded.
However, Josue David did admit he touched both of his cousins sexually.
“When we were alone and I would get a sexual urge, I would do it,” Josue David said, adding he never penetrated Samantha.
Thursday morning led off with Fraga’s daughter on the stand for more than two hours.
At one point, the judge granted a break to allow her to compose herself. As her father watched, he, too, was shedding tears.
“I’m sorry, I don’t like to talk about this,” said the daughter, who was nearly 12 when Samantha died.
A letter written by the daughter to a friend while at St. Cloud Children’s Home alerted authorities to the years of sexual abuse.
“I was very comfortable there,” she said. “There were a lot of other kids that had been through some stuff, too.”
When asked why she didn’t tell of the abuse before, she replied, “I was afraid to talk about it.” She later added she was threatened by Fraga. “If I told anyone, he would do bad things to my mom or hit my brothers,” she said.
The night before Samantha’s death, the daughter said she gave her cousin a bath.
“She said her butt hurt,” the daughter testified. “I checked her and she seemed fine.”
Later that night, after she had been in bed, her father came to get her.
“He tried to do things to me like he usually did,” she said. “He tried to rape me like he usually did.”
That night, she said she refused his sexual advances, causing Fraga to become angry.
“He went into the other room and got Samantha instead,” she said, adding Fraga drug her by the wrist into the children’s bedroom to get her cousin. He then took the two of them into the bathroom.
Fraga taped her to a chair, the daughter said, and started doing things to Samantha.
“He started flushing her head down the toilet like he usually did,” she said. “He would put her face under the faucet with really cold water.”
“He said it was my fault,” the daughter continued, “because I wouldn’t let him do things to me.”
She was let go, but said she could still hear the water running.
After returning to bed, she remembers the police at their trailer. She said she felt like she knew why they were there.
“I just didn’t want to believe it,” she said.
When asked why her father would do such things, she said she didn’t know.
“What was going through my head was he enjoys putting people through pain since he hurt me and hurt her,” the daughter said.
When Josue David took the stand, he explained the events of Samantha’s final day. He recalled the police coming to the trailer, but denied going into the bathroom to throw up — as a Worthington police officer suggested in testimony earlier this week.
Instead, he said, he went in the bathroom to try to call his father. The calls went unanswered. After going to the police station, Josue David learned his cousin had died.
“I was shocked,” he recalled. “I was 13, I didn’t know how to react to it.”
Josue David admitted to receiving a phone call later that night from his father, who instructed him to tell the police he had seen Samantha’s brother jumping on her that night. However, when asked by officers, he admitted he actually did not see that.
“At that time I didn’t know what was going on and I believed everything my father said at that point,” Josue David testified.
He also testified of being hit with a belt for punishment.
The doctor and an interviewer from Child’s Voice, a child advocacy center, were on the stand to talk about their examination of the children in the days following Samantha’s death.
Dr. Edward Mailloux said he couldn’t tell of any sexual or physical abuse on the children.
Colleen Brazil interviewed the children at Child’s Voice, and said some of them seemed quiet and guarded. She also said she has seen cases where abuse victims take days, weeks, months or even years to tell of the abuse.
“If they feel safe and get distance, sometimes they are able to open up,” Brazil said.
The trial continues today with Worthington Detective Sergeant Kevin Flynn, Family Services representatives and forensic science laboratory witnesses from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension scheduled to take the stand.