In a stunning turnabout, Sara Cole, the Los Gatos woman accused of having unlawful sex with one of her son's best friends, told a jury on Monday that it was the teen who tried to sexually assault her
, a claim she never made to police and her defense attorney never mentioned in his opening statement.
Cole said the teen touched her "inappropriately" three times, including pinning her down on a bed and fondling her until she screamed for him to stop -- a sharp contrast to the 30 to 40 instances of consensual sex the teen described last week in his testimony. Cole said she had not mentioned those details in her police interview because she was trying to help the teen
"I feel like I should have been harsher, been more of a disciplinarian, reported what he had done," Cole testified.
The prosecution's case would be a "he-said, she-said," except for two things -- the 5,413 text messages and 863 phone calls the two exchanged
during a 61/2 month period last year, which Cole sought to explain Monday, as well as the interview with Los Gatos detectives that was taped and played for the jury of seven women and five men. At no point during that interview did Cole seem shocked or outraged by the detectives' accusations.
The defense, which rested Monday, relied on Cole's testimony and contradictions between what the teen said on the stand last week and what he told police last summer. The teen tried to address that by testifying that telling the truth about the liaison with the then-47-year-old woman would "make me look bad and I wanted to save her (Cole)."
During her testimony Monday, Cole, 48, continually gave long, rambling answers. She also wrung her hands, buried her face in her hands, whimpered and cried in short spurts.
Cole said the last time the teen acted inappropriately with her occurred in July 2010 when she was alone in her 1,300-square-foot house with him. She said he came into her bedroom and offered to crack her back, something he and her sons often did for each other. Initially, she refused, but eventually allowed him to come up behind her and try it.
When she told him to stop, he threw her on the bed, straddled her, pushed up her sundress and fondled her, she said.
"At one point I started screaming -- he was trying to cover my mouth," she said. "I was screaming at him, 'stop, stop, stop, what are you doing, get off me, get off me.' "
"After that sexual assault, I assume you were afraid to be alone with him," prosecutor Tim Moore asked her.
"Yes," she said.
"But you got into a car with him -- alone -- and drove him where he wanted to go," he asked skeptically, referring to an evening about eight days or so later when the two parked at Daves Avenue Elementary School in Los Gatos.
Cole testified she was driving the teen home and only parked at the school to talk to him about his drug and other problems while they listened to music.
In contrast, the teen testified he and Cole had sexual intercourse that night in her green SUV. Last week, he testified they had sex 30 or 40 times, contradicting the "three to four times" he initially told police about when they visited him last summer at a Utah wilderness camp for troubled teens his parents put him in because of his drug use and poor grades. He also initially said she was the instigator, but testified it was mutual.
Cole described two other incidents she said involved sexually inappropriate behavior by the teen, which she said she took either as feeble attempts to joke or acting out. In 2009, he came up behind her, held her hips and pressed his crotch up against her, in front of one of her sons, she said. In May 2010, she crouched down to pick up some Doritos he dropped, and he pulled her head toward his crotch, she testified. She also testified he became physically abusive after she caught him stealing $40 from her purse. He pushed her into a wall, and she hit her head, she said.
Cole also explained the most sexually graphic text message she sent the teen -- praising a part of his anatomy -- by saying it was an "obviously inappropriate," "bad, vulgar joke"
in keeping with the atmosphere of a home with four sons.
"It's like being in a locker room sometimes," she said. "There's lots of talking going on, comparisons."
When Moore asked skeptically, "Do any of your son's other friends text you and want to spend time with you alone?" Cole explained the frequency and nature of the texting by saying the teen was "like one of the family."
Cole had agreed in the police interview that she and the teen had a "physical relationship." But she testified Monday she was referring to his physically aggressive and sexually inappropriate behavior toward her, not sex. (Ya shur, ubetcha)
Also during the interview, Cole asked if she was going to be arrested and expressed fear that she "wouldn't get past it." She explained, under gentle questioning Monday by Armstrong, that she asked only because she was baffled and confused by what the detectives were doing at her house.
But on cross-examination, Moore expressed skepticism.
"You thought you were in trouble because you got sexually assaulted?" he asked.