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Phallen hearing halted as defense argues woman lied to police

LOCKPORT – A hearing on an attempt to suppress the evidence seized from the home of alleged sex torturer Iver J. Phallen was suspended Wednesday to give the defense a chance to argue that the search warrant should be invalidated because one of the alleged victims lied to police.

Defense attorney James W. Grable Jr. will be given a chance to make his case that the warrant granted by Cambria Town Justice Amel S. Jowdy Jr. in September was illegally based on false statements by one of the women who claimed she was tortured and sexually assaulted by Phallen, 67, in his condominium on Carriage Drive in Lewiston.

Testimony in the hearing Monday by Sgt. Frank Previte of the Lewiston Police Department detailed the seizure from the condo and Phallen’s car of what he described as a metal box with bare wires used to shock the woman, as well as ropes, zip ties, hooks, a scalpel, darts, clamps and pliers.

Phallen is under two indictments totaling 209 counts regarding three woman who said Phallen beat, restrained them, hanged and sexually abused them.

Grable said every sex crime count requires the prosecution to prove that there was no consent by the women.

He said one of the women told a bogus story to police and medical personnel about how and why she got to Lewiston.

The story originally asserted forcible compulsion by Phallen, who allegedly used a ruse involving a second woman whom police never have found, to get the victim, a 24-year-old Buffalo stripper, to Lewiston to have some ice cream Sept. 25.

Phallen then purportedly struck the victim in the head before having his way with her.

The real story, according to Grable: “She put the handcuffs on consensually, went there for purposes of prostitution. … She was never knocked out. She put those handcuffs on willingly, and she now says that in her grand jury testimony.”

Deputy District Attorney Holly E. Sloma said she has no objection to the matter of the woman’s veracity being litigated – Grable promised to do that if the case goes to trial – but Sloma said the pretrial hearing shouldn’t be expanded to include that issue.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1978 that when a search warrant is based on a statement that either was knowingly false or made with “reckless disregard for the truth,” the warrant is invalid and all the material seized is inadmissible at trial. Such a ruling would be a bonanza for Phallen’s defense.

However, Grable has to prove that police knew the woman was lying, County Judge Sara Sheldon noted.

Sheldon set arguments for April 27.

The suppression hearing will resume April 28; the trial is set to begin Sept. 8.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com