Jurors take up ritualized abuse case

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SANDPOINT — Jurors began taking up the case Tuesday of Priest River man accused of using his religious beliefs to engage in ritualized, physical and sexual abuse with his former wife and children.

Dana Andrew Furtney is being tried in 1st District Court on 14 felony counts ranging from ritualized abuse, sexual abuse of a child, lewd conduct, domestic battery and injury to a child.

The alleged misconduct occurred at the former couple’s secluded Peninsula Loop Road home north of Priest River between 2009 and 2013.

Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Katie Murdock said in her opening remarks that religious beliefs were a cornerstone of the family’s life, but Furtney’s conduct ultimately crossed the line from the spiritual realm to the criminal realm.

“His acts were and are against the laws of this state,” Murdock told a jury of seven men and seven women.

Deputy Public Defender Susie Jensen urged jurors to keep an open mind and said Furtney’s action’s were anchored in his devotion to his family.

“There is more to the story than initially appears,” Jensen said.

Furtney’s former wife was the state’s first witness. She testified of escaping the family’s secluded compound, which had subterranean passageways connecting a collection of modest structures, with four of her five children last fall.

The woman described their beliefs as an amalgamation of devout Christianity with heavy doses of an impending nuclear apocalypse, bondage and sadomasochism. The family lived in a one-room daylight basement dwelling filled with bunk beds, an enclosed shower stall and a curtained loft where their parents slept.

Jurors were shown photos of the living arrangements and the railroad tie-bolstered tunnel. They were also shown the actual stockade device that bound his wife’s head, feet and neck, a prefabricated set of angular tubing with manacles and a belly rest attached.

Furtney’s former wife testified as being a vessel for Jesus’s word, which Furtney allegedly relied upon as a guiding force.

Furtney is accused of exploiting the situation by confiscating her eyeglasses, which slowed her from fleeing an abusive relationship because she was unable she was unable to see without corrective lenses.

But under cross-examination, the wife did not actually see some of the sex acts in the curtained bedroom, but said she could make out the sexual actions in the bathroom, despite the opaque glass.

The defense drilled down on the wife’s complacency, noting that the wife took part in the alleged abuse.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by phone at 208-263-9534, by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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