LOCKPORT – It’s not very romantic when a man brings a woman home and asks her to sign a consent form. But that may have been what Iver J. Phallen did before allegedly sexually abusing and torturing at least one of his reported victims.
State Police Investigator John A. DiPasquale testified in Niagara County Court on Wednesday that when he and other officers executed a search warrant at Phallen’s Lewiston home on the night of Sept. 27, consent forms were among the things they were looking for, based on the statement of the first woman to complain about her treatment.
“We were looking for consent forms, waiver of consent forms,” DiPasquale said during an evidence suppression hearing. He wasn’t asked whether the woman he interviewed signed such a form, and attorneys in the case, pointing to a gag order issued by County Judge Sara Sheldon, refused to say whether that was what happened.
At earlier court appearances, defense attorney James W. Grable Jr. has said that Phallen’s defense will center on the allegation that the women consented to the action.
At least two of the three women named as victims told police they accepted money to have sex with Phallen, and Investigator Darren C. Bialek testified Wednesday that a black pouch containing $2,000 in cash – “two stacks of $100 bills” – was found on the basement desk next to Phallen’s computer.
But it was clear that Phallen, a 67-year-old retired businessman, had bureaucratic tendencies that helped police in their investigation. Pages of allegedly incriminating notes and records helped produce two indictments totaling 209 counts, accusing Phallen of assaulting three women last year in his condominium on Carriage Lane in Lewiston.
Grable is trying to suppress the evidence as illegally seized, a contention that has led to hours of police testimony on how and when they found the material.
Deputy District Attorney Holly E. Sloma told Sheldon she is trying to have the evidence not named in the search warrant ruled admissible under the “plain view doctrine” that allows the use of such material if it is unexpected and easily visible.
DiPasquale was asked repeatedly if each page of notes looked incriminating to him without any “studied reflection.”
He said he and another investigator went back to Cambria Town Justice Amel S. Jowdy Jr. to have him amend the search warrant after finding a wealth of written information on a note pad on a desk in Phallen’s basement. DiPasquale told Jowdy he found “some indications he was systematically searching and preparing for further encounters with women.”
DiPasquale said he searched the basement with State Police Capt. Steven Nigrelli, and he quoted Nigrelli as saying, “These are interesting notes. They pertain to planning activities of the nature that (the alleged victim) described.”
The top page of one pad bore the words “Next Prep.” Another pad had the victim’s name and phone number written on it. On another page was written “Wednesday Action Plan – Next Targets,” followed by the names of four women, DiPasquale testified.
Another sheet of paper “appeared to be a script as to what he would say in a telephone conversation with (the complainant),” DiPasquale testified.
Also, Phallen’s laptop was on, showing his email inbox, with subject lines referring to dating and Internet sex sites.
There was no screen saver, the investigator said.
He said the alleged victim told him that Phallen, whom she knew as “Jay,” told her she was victim No. 21, and that No. 19 “had survived trial by error and had been electrocuted and hung.”
DiPasquale said the original search warrant sought “ropes, nooses, chains, whips, bungee cords. She indicated she was hanged three times.”
DiPasquale said he found “a large black rope” in a green duffel bag inside a plastic tote near the basement stairs.
One of the note sheets “appeared to have (the word) ‘vibrator’ abbreviated,” DiPasquale said, and had the words “electric rig” and “fuses” crossed out. The woman had told police that “some sort of device hoisted her to the ceiling.”
The victim numbers may have been what led to the police belief that Phallen had dozens of victims.
As for the stacks of cash, DiPasquale said they were “consistent with the money I secured from (the woman) at State Police Niagara, right down to the black metal clip.”