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Girl testifies stepfather raped her

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
A Superior Court judge has dismissed most of the charges against a Rowan County man accused of incest, saying the victim did not provide specific details of the alleged abuse.
Judge Richard L. Doughton said Tuesday afternoon, out of the presence of jurors, he would instruct the jury to prove guilt or innocence on three of the original eight charges.
Doughton is a special judge who can preside throughout the state.
The defendant is the stepfather of the victim. He is accused of raping her on several occasions when she was 8 years old. She is now 13.
The Post does not identify victims of sex crimes and is not naming the man to protect the identity of the victim.
Authorities charged the man, then 47, with three counts of first-degree rape of a child, three counts of incest and two counts of first-degree sex offense against a child.
The victim told local pediatrician Kathleen Russo in an interview that she recalled the incidents occurring possibly three times.
The judge cited that uncertainty in making his decision to drop some of the charges.
The defendant’s attorney, Salisbury’s Trippe McKeny, asked that the charges be dismissed on grounds there was not enough detailed evidence to show the abuse occurred over a period of time.
Assistant District Attorney Karen Biernacki objected to the dismissal, pointing to the victim’s testimony of recalling the first incident vividly and saying the others happened the same way.
The victim, speaking in a soft voice, testified Tuesday morning that she recalled the abuse occurring at least two times a week from the end of second grade to the beginning of third grade.
She later said she could not remember specifics about each time, but that she recalled the first time very well.
She told a neighbor of the abuse during the summer of 2007. That neighbor eventually called the Rowan County Department of Social Services.
The victim told the neighbor in great detail what happened to her and together they told the girl’s maternal grandmother.
The neighbor testified that the grandmother did not appear shocked.
“There was no emotion,” the neighbor said. “She said, ‘It’s a little too late to do anything about it.’ ”
When the grandmother did not call Social Services, the neighbor called the agency.
The neighbor testified the girl had been staying with her grandmother for the summer. She said the girl asked if she could swim in her pool like many of the other neighborhood children.
The neighbor told jurors she’d built a rapport with the victim. However, she’d always found something “odd” about her. She testified the girl did not wash her hair often. The girl was shy, but seemed mature for her age and wore tight clothing.
“She seemed stuck,” the neighbor said. “She wanted to take care of herself, but didn’t know how.”
The neighbor taught the girl to use deodorant and wash her hair regularly, court statements say.
The girl’s mother was a stripper at two local clubs, according to testimony from the girl, the neighbor and the doctor.
The victim’s mother also dressed the girl in provocative clothing and took her to truck stops where the mother exchanged sex for money, according to testimony. The girl said on the witness stand she only watched from outside.
The girl told the neighbor they “begged for money” at the truck stops, but later told investigators she knew her mother was trading sex for money.
Those events occurred around the same times as the abuse.
Russo, the pediatrician, told jurors she examined the girl and interviewed her in 2007. The girl described to the doctor what happened and how many times. The victim, on a taped interview with the doctor, said the defendant raped her.
“He hurt me,” she said.
The girl said the incidents occurred more than three times. The one time she recalled vividly was when her mother was at work and her stepfather called her into the bedroom. She said on the recording she thought he was calling her in to take a bath.
Instead, she said in the interview, he told her to take off her clothes and lie on the bed. He then raped her. The doctor asked the girl if she said anything to her stepfather.
“I told him it hurt,” she said.
“What did he say?” asked the doctor.
“Nothing,” the victim said.
She said her stepfather never threatened her physically if she told anyone. He just said it was “our little secret.”
The girl told the neighbor her stepfather also made her touch him and perform fellatio more than once. She said the reason she’d never told anyone until that point was because she was “scared of what might happen.”
The girl said she was afraid of her grandmother’s boyfriend, whom she referred to as her grandfather.
The girl told the neighbor she did not trust men, especially older men with tattoos like her stepfather had.
The stepfather had been a part of the girl’s life since she was 3 or 4, her grandmother said in court. The girl’s mother and stepfather are now divorced. The mother lives in Garden City Beach, S.C., which is seven miles south of Myrtle Beach. The girl does not live with her mother, but no longer lives in Rowan County.
Russo testified there was no physical evidence to prove an assault took place ó no blatant scars or tearing. But that physical examination took place nearly three years after the alleged rapes and Russo said healing could occur within weeks.
The exam was inconclusive.
The defendant has been in the Rowan County Detention Center since his arrest.
The trial resumes today at 9:30 a.m.

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