Brainwashed by Her Husband


Detective Richard Strasser investigated the case along with Hoagland, and the pair upset Richard right away.

The night Richard brought his wife to confess to abusing their children, the officers, over Richard's objections, had the kids moved to protective custody. The next day, with the children in the safety of a state facility, they told detectives enough to have their father arrested for spousal abuse.

For their part, Strasser says he has "no doubt" that Richard beat his wife, and Hoagland says he does not believe there was ever any satanic cult.

The Trial

When the case went to trial, Richard defended himself. He prepared his case from the county jail where he was held for more than a year and a half without bail.

The center of his defense: that Susan had first told police that her father had abused her, that only after Richard was in custody did she flip her story and accuse him.

Richard called an expert witness in psychiatry to back up that theory for the jury.

Colin Ross said, "It's psychologically realistic -- before you get into the case -- that in fact she could've been abused by her father and this could be a loyalty conflict and she could've flipped to protect her relationship with her father. That's perfectly plausible and possible."

The prosecution says that Richard's accusations against Susan's father were investigated and dismissed, and that the case before the jury was very simple.

Prosecutor Vicki Ashworth says she "laid it out as a very severe domestic violence case."

Some of the trial's most emotional testimony came from the Hamlin children. By the time of the trial, the children were in total sympathy with their mother.

Susan was on the stand at her husband's torture trial for seven days.

"It was very hard with your abuser and brainwasher sitting five feet in front of you," she said. "He was sitting there, feeding questions to his attorney. He was rolling his eyes. He was throwing his pen down."

When the case went to the jury, Susan says she knew that the possibility of her having a life not ruled by fear rested on the outcome.

After deliberating for eight days, on Jan. 10, 2006, the jury found Richard guilty of torture. The guilty verdict did not put a dent in Richard's proclamation of innocence.

"I hope you're not of the belief that innocent people don't get convicted in this country, because it happens all the time," he said.

The Sentence

Even as he awaited his sentence, which could range from probation to life, Richard said that he was going to appeal. At the sentencing, among those giving the court opinions on what his punishment should be were the Hamlin children.

Ryan said, "I haven't an ounce of doubt within me that were my father to be released on probation he would only cause more pain and suffering and this time it could be worse than before. … He is extremely dangerous and possesses a grave threat to innocent lives. I believe that the only rational option is to sentence him to life in prison."

And Claire said, "I think my father should be in prison for life because he was such a bad parent. … He was a terrible father and husband."

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