Statements made by Brendan Dassey during the Teresa Halbach murder investigation may change the way some see his uncle, Steven Avery, the central subject of Netflix’s “Making a Murderer.”
Dan O’Donnell, one of the reporters who covered the trial documented in the popular docuseries, said that the prosecutors, defense team, and the Netflix filmmakers ignored Dassey’s claims that Avery sexually molested him.
According to court records obtained by The Wrap, on May 13, 2006, Dassey, 16 at the time, told police during one of his highly contested interviews, which some believe resulted in a false confession, that his uncle sometimes tried to grab his genitals “through the pants.” Later that day, Dassey told his mother, Barb Tadych, that Avery “would grab me somewhere where I was uncomfortable.”
Read the phone transcript between Dassey and his mother below:
“He clearly is saying that Steven molested him,” said O’Donnell, who now hosts a podcast about the trial and Netflix series, which he believes treats Avery preferentially. “Really, I don’t have any reason to believe that Dassey would have been lying.”
O’Donnell told the site that he’s troubled that the Netflix series “never even entertained as a possibility” that Avery molested Dassey.
Both Avery and Dassey are serving life sentences after being convicted of the murder of Halbach.
Netflix and representatives for series creators Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi declined to comment on the subject to TheWrap.
Avery’s new attorney, Kathleen Zellner, referred to the molestation claims as “rumor and innuendo” meant to distract from the facts of the case.
“Mr. Avery categorically denies this unsubstantiated allegation,” she said in a statement.
“Mr. Dassey’s confession is clearly false, as the lack of corroborating evidence shows,” she continued. “The master/slave analogy is more applicable to the police abusing their power by coercing a confession from a 16-year-old who was highly suggestible because of his low IQ and isolation from his family during the interrogation. It is typical for wrongful conviction cases to be based on rumor and innuendo such as this in an effort to distract the public from the complete lack of evidence supporting the conviction. Pure, utter rubbish — never used in either trial because it is untrue.”
Former Calumet County prosecutor Ken Kratz said that the state was never asked to investigate sexual molestation allegations against Avery. He pointed out that the defense instead focused on “the issue of false confessions, and whether Mr. Dassey’s limited intelligence made him more susceptible to police interrogation methods.”
And Dassey’s first attorney, Len Kachinsky, who was removed from the case after the judge discovered that he let police interrogate Dassey twice without him or a parent present, said he had no knowledge of Dassey’s claims of sexual abuse by Avery.