On Feb. 16, 2018, Julie Ludwig visited 14-year-old John Doe at Red River Valley Behavioral Health, where he was receiving 24-7 care. He seemed a little down but, for the most part, seemed normal.
Ludwig, a partnership case manager for Northeast Human Services, testified in court on Thursday, Aug. 13, that she and Doe talked about his family and played his favorite card game.
Then suddenly, his whole demeanor changed.
"All of a sudden, he started to shake," Ludwig testified. "He became white, and he just stared."
She said Doe was staring at another doctor, who was described as wearing a large belt buckle, a bolo tie and a "cowboy shirt."
"I said, 'do you see something?'" Ludwig said. "He said, 'that guy looks like Cowboy.'"
Cowboy was later identified as a nickname for Shawn Wear, 53, of Aneta Springs, Fla. Wear is accused of sexually abusing Doe in Grand Forks County multiple times during 2013 and 2014 and appeared for his first day of trial on Thursday, Aug. 13. If convicted of gross sexual imposition, Wear faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.
An investigation was opened into the alleged sexual abuse months after the incident at Red River Valley Behavioral Health. In August 2018, Doe was on an overnight bike trip when an adult supervisor overheard Doe telling other boys in his tent about the alleged sexual abuse.
The adult supervisor, Jennifer Pantzer, a family therapist and transition coordinator with the Ruth Meiers Youth Treatment Center in Grand Forks, testified that she is a mandated reporter and was required to report the allegation despite Doe asking her to pretend she had never heard it.
In a subsequent forensic interview at the Red River Children's Advocacy Center, Doe told interviewers that Wear sexually abused him when he was 10 or 11, and Wear was 46 or 47, according to court documents.
In his opening statement, Wear's defense attorney Daniel Hopper asked the jury to keep an open mind.
He said that Wear's job kept him away from Grand Forks a majority of the time and consistently denied the allegations when questioned by law enforcement. Hopper also noted that in February 2018, Doe's mother took his younger sister to the doctor because she suspected "something had happened" with Wear, but doctors and law enforcement found no evidence of sexual abuse.
Doe's mother agreed with this in testimony.
"Her behavior was way out of character, and it seemed like there was something wrong," she said, also noting that her daughter, who was 3 years old at the time, appeared to not want to spend time with Wear.
Doe's mother testified that she never witnessed anything sexual happen between Doe and Wear, but she did say that after Wear and Doe began spending more time together, she noticed a change in Doe's behavior: He went from an energetic, happy 10-year-old interested in riding his bike and spending time with friends to wanting to keep to himself more and staying in his bedroom.
Wear's trial will continue on Friday, Aug. 14.