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Jurors Hear Fort Calhoun Woman For Second Day in Franklin Case - Mar 20, 1990 - Omaha World-Herald

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Mar 20, 1990 Jurors Hear Fort Calhoun Woman For Second Day in Franklin Case; [Metro Edition] Gabriella Stern. Omaha World - Herald. Omaha, Neb. pg. 1

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(Copyright 1990 Omaha World-Herald Company)

A Fort Calhoun woman continued her testimony Tuesday before a Douglas County grand jury that is investigating allegations of sexual abuse that arose in the investigation of the 1988 failure of the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union.

Kirstin Hallberg of rural Fort Calhoun, Neb., previously has told state officials about two teen-age sisters who alleged that they were sexually abused.

Mrs. Hallberg spent about an hour Monday with the jurors, who are working in a sixth-floor courtroom in the Douglas County Courthouse.

She arrived at the courthouse about 9 a.m. Tuesday for a second day of testimony.

Special Prosecutor Samuel Van Pelt has said the jury will trace the history of sexual abuse allegations in the case.

Arranged Parties

Those allegations go back to July 1988, before Franklin failed. That's when the State Foster Care Review Board said it had received allegations of a child exploitation and prostitution ring and alleged "inappropriate activities" by Lawrence E. King Jr. King was then Franklin's top executive officer.

Two teen-age sisters described parties they attended in 1984 and 1985 at which sexual activity allegedly occurred, the review board said. A news story detailing the review board report was published Feb. 5, 1989.

The older sister alleged that King arranged for her to fly to parties in Washington and other cities where men engaged her in sexual activity. One sister said she sat naked at parties while men engaged her in sex-related activities, although penetration was not allowed.

In Foster Care

The two sisters were, at one time, the adopted children of a Washington County couple. Later, the two were foster children of the late Kathleen Sorensen of Blair, and they told her of the earlier alleged sexual abuse. Mrs. Hallberg was a close friend of Mrs. Sorensen, who was killed in a car accident last October.

Mrs. Hallberg, as she left the courthouse Monday, acknowledged that she had appeared before the grand jury and said she had taken an oath of secrecy. She declined to say more about her testimony but did speak generally about the Franklin case.

Mrs. Hallberg has worked as a child-care professional and interviewed the two alleged victims. She has been a critic of law enforcement agencies, saying she does not believe they investigated the child sexual abuse allegations promptly.

Mrs. Hallberg said Monday that her appearance before the grand jury gave her a greater sense of confidence in the investigation.

"I'm much more confident, just from the nature of the whole proceedings," she said in an interview. Mrs. Hallberg, who recently had surgery, was accompanied by a friend who drove her to the courthouse. She appeared voluntarily and picked up a subpoena when she arrived to give her testimony.

'Good Progress'

Van Pelt and assistant Terry Dougherty said they were pleased with the first day of the grand jury's investigation.

"I think we were making good progress," said Dougherty, a Lincoln attorney appointed by Van Pelt.

"We got through the first day," said Van Pelt, a former Lancaster County district judge who has said the grand jury investigation will last at least two months.

Mrs. Hallberg...returns Tuesday morning.

Dougherty...Van Pelt's assistant in the case.

Credit: World-Herald Staff Writer

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