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Victim paints picture of sexual torture

ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- David Ortner's child sex abuse trial resumed here Tuesday with the prosecution telling jurors the victim learned much from his abuser.

ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- David Ortner's child sex abuse trial resumed here Tuesday with the prosecution telling jurors the victim learned much from his abuser.

"He learned a lot about computers, boats, how to water-ski ... (Ortner) even taught him how to fly," Clay County Attorney Lisa Borgen told 14 jurors during the second day of Ortner's trial on seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

"But no one knew the price he was paying," she added, referring to the victim, now 21, who testified Tuesday about sexual and physical abuse that began when he was about 9 and lasted until he was 16.

The victim is not being identified in this story because The Forum typically does not identify victims in sexual assaults.

The incidents started, the victim said, after he took a job at D&M Technologies, Ortner's Moorhead business.


At first, he said, the abuse took the form of spankings with a shoe brush on his bare bottom. Over time, he said, it progressed to oral and anal sex.

Sometimes at night in the winter, he said, Ortner made him crawl naked on his hands and knees through the snow behind D&M Technologies.

Other times, he said, Ortner would make him crouch naked on his hands and knees, at which point, he said, Ortner would kick him repeatedly in the testicles while wearing boots.

"It's the most painful thing I've ever felt," he said.

The abuse, he said, "made me feel lower than a snake's belly. It made me feel pretty dirty."

Incidents of abuse, he said, occurred in several areas inside D&M Technologies as well as other locations. He said Ortner lived in the basement of his mother's home in Moorhead and would sometimes take him there. He likened the basement to a scene in the horror movie, "Silence of the Lambs."

"It was really messy, kind of dark. It was creepy."

The victim said he didn't tell anyone about the abuse, which he said occurred more times than he could remember, because he was embarrassed and because "I was brainwashed into thinking I deserved these punishments."


He said Ortner would often push him to take more hits with the shoe brush or kicks to the groin, stating to him, " 'If you can take this, you can take anything. It's all in your mindset.' ''

The victim, who is now married and in the military, told the court that, in a way, Ortner was telling the truth.

"I have to admit, the tenure I put in (at D&M Technologies) has made me a pretty tough person," he said. "There's nothing anybody can do to me that could be worse than that."

The victim told the jury if he seemed emotionless it was because he wanted to maintain military bearing.

"I'm trying to give the straight facts," he said. "I don't show emotion to people, I'm done crying."

The victim said the first time he told anyone about the abuse was last winter. He said he felt his girlfriend deserved to know the truth before they were married. "I really loved her and told her things I never told another living soul."

The victim's wife testified Tuesday that she once drew a hot bath for her husband to help him unwind after he returned from a stressful tour of duty in the Persian Gulf.

Rather than risking offending her by declaring the water too hot, she said her husband simply endured the scalding water until he nearly passed out.


She said he told her "this guy made him not feel pain anymore."

She responded, she said, by telling him, "It's not about you 'taking it.' ... You're not supposed to be in pain."

Borgen told the jury that authorities found out about the case last summer after the victim's parents heard news accounts of other allegations about Ortner and asked their son if he had been victimized.

The victim testified Tuesday that he decided to tell his parents because he was tired of keeping secrets. "My life's an open book and that's how I'm going to keep it from now on," he said.

In his cross examination, Ortner's attorney, Mark Blumer, questioned how the abuse could have occurred for so long without someone else at the company interrupting the activity.

"You're running around naked not knowing when someone will come to work?" Blumer asked.

"It will get your heart going," the victim said.

"I'm sure it would," Blumer responded.


Blumer also questioned the victim about discrepancies between what he testified to in court Tuesday and information he gave to police in an earlier interview. Blumer quoted the victim from a police report as having said about particular type of abuse, "Hey, it could happen."

"It did happen," the victim responded.

Blumer asked the witness whether or not he had discussed the possibility of a civil lawsuit with anyone.

The victim said he had not had any conversations with a lawyer but his father had contacted one. "I do have a lawyer to represent me should anything arise," he said.

Ortner, 53, also faces criminal sexual charges involving four other individuals. Those cases are awaiting trial.

In addition, a number of others have come forward with accounts of abuse that Borgen said are too old to prosecute and she has asked Clay County District Court Judge Michael Kirk to allow three of those people to testify in the current trial.

Kirk will make a ruling on the request after the prosecution has completed the rest of its case, which Borgen said could happen as early as today.

The trial, which resumes today, was moved from Moorhead to Stearns County because of publicity that arose after charges were filed against Ortner last summer in Clay County District Court.


Readers can reach Moorhead Bureau Chief Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com.
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