A former teammate of Rosendo "Rusty" Torres, accused of sexually abusing two 8-year-old girls, testified Friday that students coached by Torres adored the ex-Yankee outfielder.
"They loved him," Ron Blomberg, 65, Major League Baseball's first designated hitter, said in a Mineola courtroom where Torres is on trial on felony charges, including seven counts of sex abuse involving girls younger than 11.
Blomberg and Torres played in the minor leagues starting in 1967 and with the New York Yankees in the 1970s.
He and two other defense witnesses, including an expert in clinical and forensic psychology, took the stand Friday, when the defense rested. Torres did not testify.
Blomberg, of Atlanta, testified that he had not heard of sexual abuse allegations from Torres' Long Island students who attended Blomberg's annual clinic in Pennsylvania.
"He's never had any problems," said Blomberg, who called Torres "my brother."
Torres, 65, of Massapequa, is accused of having inappropriate contact with the victims in what the girls knew as "bumping" in Plainview, while he was a youth baseball instructor for the town of Oyster Bay.
He was suspended from his job after his May 8, 2012, arrest.
Prosecutors said one girl's abuse took place four times in April 2012 and May 2012. Torres allegedly abused another girl between October 2008, when she was in kindergarten, and May 2012.
One victim's interview with police was not recorded; a second victim's was.
Anthony V. Santoro, the psychologist, who said he has conducted court-ordered evaluations on the validity on sex abuse allegations, testified it is "standard" practice to record interviews of sexual abuse victims.
He said the recordings allow you to hear a child's words "how they said them, how they responded to questions, whether the questions were posed neutrally, opened-ended or close-ended."
One victim was interviewed by police with her parents in the room -- which Santora said was not standard.
"The presence of any other parties, especially family members, is a strong potential bias," he said.
Santora said the videotaped interview "was not conducted neutrally," and the officer posed close-ended questions, and used his adjectives to describe the girl's interactions with Torres.
In cross-examination by Assistant District Attorney D.J. Rosenbaum, Santora acknowledged he had not interviewed the victims or Torres.
"Did you interview anybody?" Rosenbaum asked.
"No, I did not," Santoro said. He added he had reviewed pretrial material, including the videotaped statement, and medical records.
In court, Rosenbaum pointed that one victim was interviewed at a hospital by herself. The prosecutor said in the videotaped interview, another victim in describing "a good touch and a bad touch" said "a bad touch was when someone touches you where you don't want to be touched." Testimony is expected to continue Monday, when closing arguments may begin.