The attorney for a 33-year-old Lawrence woman accused of crimes against children, requested his client be allowed to leave the room as jurors were about to watch a video of her being interrogated by police.
“It was a traumatic experience,” defense attorney Napoleon Crews said. “She doesn’t want to relive it by watching it again.”
Shortly after the defendant left the room, the DVD played. Jurors and the rest of the court turned their attention to a large television at the front of the room to watch as Lawrence police detectives interviewed the woman back in June.
The woman’s trial began Wednesday afternoon. She faces two counts of child endangerment and one count of lewd and lascivious behavior. Her husband faces a January trial on multiple charges, including three counts of child rape.
He’s accused of having sex with and molesting the two girls, now 9 and 11 years old, over a two-year period at the couple’s home in north-central Lawrence.
At the beginning of the video, the court watched a pastor enter the room advising the woman to tell the truth, then they prayed together.
After the pastor left the room, two police detectives began the interrogation. They told her that her husband was under arrest and had just confessed to having sex with two girls, ages 8 and 10 at the time.
“Oh my,” she said on the video as she cried.
The detectives repeatedly asked the woman, who at the time wasn’t under arrest, to be truthful.
“I’m not sure how much help I’ll be to you,” she said at one point.
They asked her to describe how she met her husband and when the couple moved to Lawrence. She said that they met at church in Virginia and had lived in Lawrence for four years.
One of the detectives asked her how she and her husband knew the alleged victims. She told the detectives that the girls lived in Topeka. The accused couple met the family through Heritage Baptist Church, which is in northwest Lawrence.
Amy McGowan, a chief assistant Douglas County district attorney, told jurors Wednesday that the girls would frequently spend time at the couple’s home after school one day a week before evening church service.
The girls reportedly told their parents about the alleged abuse in June.
The detectives asked the woman about her home life. She told them that she worked for a company contracted with the Home Shopping Network. She told them she processed orders over the phone from her home and was often busy.
That’s when police suggested the woman may have known about the alleged abuse.
“Maybe you were home when some of these things happened?” one of the detectives asked her.
Later in the interrogation, she was asked about a specific incident in which she allegedly showed her genitalia to a 10-year-old girl.
“He (her husband) said she (alleged victim) was curious and wanted to see what it looked like,” she said.
After additional questions she also told the detectives that on several occasions, she was engaged in sexual activity with her husband, when she said she was surprised to realize that the 10-year-old girl was hiding in the room watching.
She also told the detectives that her husband had purchased sexual devices for the girl.
“I didn’t realize they were for her; they were supposed to be for me, not for anybody else,” she said.
The trial in District Judge Peggy Kittel’s courtroom is scheduled to last through Friday.
The Journal-World generally does not name sex-crime defendants unless they have been convicted.