A 25-year-old Annapolis woman told a Circuit Court jury yesterday that years of being forced to have oral sex with her stepfather changed their relationship until she became like a wife to him.
A 47-year-old Chadds Ford, Pa., man faces charges of sexual child abuse, second-degree rape and other sex offenses in a trial expected to last two days before Judge Eugene M. Lerner.
The victim said that when she was seven, her stepfather came into the bathroom while she was taking a bath and instructed her to fondle him. Soon after that, it became a part of her
stepfather's routine to fondle her when he came into her bedroom to tuck her into bed every night.
Over the next six years, the two had oral sex a number of times, according to the testimony.
"I knew what was expected of me. It was like he trained me to do what he wanted," the victim said.
The victim's mother, whom the defendant married when the victim was 6 years old, was never around during the alleged incidents, according to testimony.
"It was almost like my mother went out of the picture and I became his wife," the victim said.
They had oral sex about twice a week, until she finally put a stop to it, at age 13, when he tried to have sexual intercourse with her.
"By that time I knew that what we were doing was wrong, that other people didn't do it," she said.
She said that he tried to talk her into continuing.
"He said that he was only my stepfather, that he wasn't a blood relative, so it wasn't incest," she said.
"He never forced or beat me, so he said it wasn't child abuse," she said.
And through it all, she loved him.
"I was very emotionally attached to him. He was my best friend," she told the jury.
The victim left home when she was 17, worked as a sales clerk in a clothing store and scraped by, sharing apartments with other women and "eating candy bars instead of meals to survive," said Cynthia Ferris, assistant state's attorney.
Ms. Ferris said in opening statements that when the defendant split up with the victim's mother in 1981, the relationship with the stepdaughter deteriorated.
Taking the stand yesterday, the victim answered questions for four hours, saying she came forward this year because she began seeing a therapist, and he encouraged her to report it to authorities.
She said that experience has left her with psychological problems that still haunt her. She has trouble trusting anyone and feels isolated.
"I feel like I have to be in constant control of everything, and I'm an over-achiever," she said.
Defense attorney Steve Schenning pointed out in cross examination that she never told her mother about the abuse. He pointed out that if there were no locks on the bedroom doors, it was odd her mother never walked in on them if the abuse occurred twice a week for six years.
Mr. Schenning said that jurors should consider all the facts, including other flaws in the victim's accounts.
He pointed out to the jury that when her mother left their Annapolis home, the victim chose to stay with her stepfather -- and lived there four years after the alleged incidents stopped before she moved out.
"This case makes allegations of the vilest kind. No one could listen to the allegations and not be revolted," Mr. Schenning said. "The only thing worse is to be falsely accused of such things."
He asked jurors to put themselves in his client's place.
"This case and this process is [his] nightmare. Welcome to it."