Parts of this post were used in Aggravated.
Nina Dixon’s Qualifications
While Steve was sitting in a courtroom on the first day of his first trial, Ada Dixon was in Austin receiving “an advisory letter” from the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors (TSBEPC). The letter was a warning to Dixon about a complaint filed against her concerning “reporting possible abuse of a minor.” I have no way of knowing what was in the letter, but her governing board was clearly unhappy about something Dixon had done. She testified in Steve’s trial a couple of days later.
The prosecution fielded two expert witnesses against Steve. Blake Goudy was one of them, Ada Dixon was the other. Dixon was Hanna’s counselor from late-April 2004 until the summer of 2006 or later. Goudy was allegedly the first adult Hanna told about her abuse. I’ll do a post about him later, but the next several posts will be about Dixon.
An expert witness is usually a person who testifies for one side or the other because of some specialized knowledge or skill which relates to the case at hand. In Steve’s trials, I believe that both of the experts testified for the prosecution more because of a connection they had to Steve’s accuser than for any presumed expertise on their part.
The prosecutor, Elmer Ross, to establish Dixon’s credentials, asked her what her occupation was. She testified that she was “a registered nurse and a licensed professional counselor,” and that she had “a nursing degree, a psychology degree, and two different masters in counseling,” as well as having attended “a lot of workshops that specialize in traumatized children and adults.” She also claimed on her website that she often spoke at local churches, colleges, schools, business organizations, and at a variety of conferences. Based on the thirty titles listed (between 2000 and 2005), her speeches were sometimes of a religious nature (she is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors), but at least a third of them were about sexual abuse and the abuse of children. That was all I knew about her when I started researching Steve’s trial. I knew even less about Blake Goudy. It would take me years to get a more complete picture of either of them.
In 2016, while gathering information about a juror in Steve’s trial, I found out that Dixon, between 2000 and 2005, had conducted training sessions for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Deep Springs. CASA is an organization which assigns volunteers to represent the interests of children involved in court cases. That information wouldn’t have meant anything to me normally, but I had previously discovered another connection between two other participants in Steve’s trial and the local CASA chapter, CASA of Deep Springs.
Let me clarify something. CASA is a fine organization, but the connection of those three individuals to CASA should have disqualified them from taking part in Steve’s trial. It didn’t, even though their connection was significant and indicative of a strong bias against Steve or anyone, innocent or guilty, accused of molestation of a child. I cover that connection, and the consequences of allowing it to intrude into Steve’s trial, more thoroughly in Aggravated.
[A simple reminder, just in case you haven’t read the earliest posts in the blog (see here, here, and here), other than my brother and his family, none of the names of people, places, businesses in the book (or this blog) are their real names. CASA is a real organization, with multiple chapters around the country, but CASA in Deep Springs isn’t the real name of this chapter.]
Over the next several posts, I will attempt to paint a picture of Dixon and why she was such a vital figure in the prosecution’s case. Some of the topics I’ll touch on will include a summary of five of Dixon’s sessions with Hanna (and how that was used to cast Steve as a malicious, scheming predator); a book that Dixon wrote (which, although biased and highly unscientific in my opinion, may have provided Hanna with a game plan for convincing a jury of something that didn’t happen); and how Dixon’s trial testimony was used to counter the absence of physical evidence.
Have you had any dealings with expert witnesses? There’s a comment box below if you’d like to say something about that. Thanks.
Standard Disclaimer: Please post a comment below if you would like to. All comments are personally moderated by a grouchy old guy, though, so posts by self-promotional schemers, spammers, and lunatic ranters won’t make it through. Everyone else, whether your thoughts about this story are positive or negative, please feel free to speak your mind, but don’t ask me to reveal the identities of any of these individuals. Thanks.