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Archive for Friday, August 17, 2012

Deliberations begin in trial of man accused of molesting girl

August 17, 2012

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A Douglas County jury will resume deliberations Monday in the trial of a 39-year-old Lawrence man accused of molesting a 6-year-old girl last October.

Prosecutor Amy McGowan, a chief assistant district attorney, accused the man of sexually assaulting the girl in her bed. She said he stayed at a central Lawrence home and that he had fallen asleep in the family’s living room after he drank alcohol there the night before.

He faces one count of rape and one count of aggravated criminal sodomy. The jurors also have an option of convicting him of a lesser charge of aggravated criminal sodomy instead of the rape count.

McGowan said the girl made the allegations against the man to a worker at school the next day, and she later described the events to a child welfare worker in a video interview that jurors watched. The prosecutor also accused the man of corroborating her story when he spoke with Lawrence officers, and she argued DNA evidence taken from the girl’s pajama pants implicated the defendant.

“He very much describes in the interview with police the same thing that she does,” she said.

But defense attorney Michael Clarke said police “browbeat” the defendant, who initially denied doing anything to the girl, until he told them something they wanted in a five-hour interview. Jurors also watched the police interview during the three-day trial.

“The psychological pressure that they brought to bear on (the defendant) was unconscionable,” said Clarke, who also argued police did not test enough evidence or conduct a thorough enough investigation in the case.

The jury began its deliberations Friday afternoon in Douglas County District Judge Kay Huff’s courtroom.

The Journal-World generally does not identify sex crime suspects unless they are convicted.

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