Relatives, friends of man charged with sexual abuse defend him in court 3 girls have testified they were molested

February 10, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Two dozen people took the stand yesterday and told a Carroll County Circuit Court jury that the defendant wasn't capable of sexually abusing two of his nieces and the daughter of a family friend.

"He is a truthful and honest person," one of his sisters-in-law said. "I would trust him with my life."

Another sister-in-law said she "wouldn't hesitate" to leave her children with him.

And so it went, witness after witness, in the second day of the 43-year-old Westminster man's trial on sexual abuse charges.

Assistant Public Defender Edward T. Barry promised the jury on Monday that he would present people who would describe the defendant as the kind of person "all of the kids love" and all of the adults trust.

He delivered. From several sisters-in-law to bowling partners, each told of a man who couldn't possibly have done what prosecutors say he did.

"Would you trust him with your kids?" Mr. Barry asked a relative.

"Yes, I would," she said.

Prosecutors allege that the man fondled his nieces and the daughter of a family friend more than 50 times in the past five years. The man was arrested in August and charged with 17 counts of sexual abuse, child abuse, battery and perversion.

His arrest was the result of a state police investigation that began in May after the 10-year-old daughter of a family friend told her parents the man abused her since she was 8.

The investigation also turned up previous abuse allegations by the man's 15-year-old niece and her 9-year-old sister. The 15-year-old alleges she was assaulted when she was 9.

During the trial, the jury has heard from the three girls, who took the stand and described in detail what they said took place over the past five years.

"I was at his house one day before Christmas in 1986," the 15-year-old said Monday. "I went upstairs and watched TV with him. He put his hand down my pants. . . . I was scared. I didn't think he would do something like that."

State's Attorney Thomas E. Hick man told the jury during his opening statement Monday that the girls wouldn't make up such allegations.

"When you hear these three little kids, you'll believe that they are telling the truth," he said.

Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. sent the jury home yesterday after the state's only rebuttal witness -- the mother of the 10-year-old girl -- finished testifying.

Closing arguments are set for this morning.

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