Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Testimony concludes in trial of Lawrence man accused of molesting girl as she pretended to sleep

August 11, 2017

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Testimony wrapped up Friday, and attorneys are expected to present closing arguments Monday, in the trial of a Lawrence man accused of molesting a girl over a period of more than two years.

James M. Fletcher, 35, is charged with five counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child under 14. He was charged with one count in September 2015, and four more counts in May 2016.

Fletcher allegedly molested the girl from December 2012, when the victim was 11, through January 2015, when she was 13, according to the charges.

The girl, now 16, told the jury Tuesday that numerous times when she stayed at Fletcher’s house, he fondled her breasts under her shirt at night.

She said sometimes she was awoken by the action but that she pretended to be asleep, and that afterward she felt “scared,” “confused” and initially passed off the encounters as dreams “to give myself a reason to not have to tell anybody.”

The girl said no one else saw the alleged molestation and that she never told anyone until February 2015, after a confrontation between the man and her mother during which the man told her mother he was sexually attracted to teenage girls and worried he would develop an attraction to the girl.

On Friday, the jury watched video footage of Fletcher’s formal interview at a Lawrence police facility in February 2015 and viewed inappropriate photos of the girl that were found on Fletcher's phone.

One series of pictures showed the girl lying on her stomach on a bed wearing a T-shirt and underwear. In the first photo the underwear barely show, in the second the T-shirt has been pulled up to expose her buttocks, and the third photo is zoomed in on her buttocks.

The video shows detectives asking Fletcher questions about the photos, including who lifted the girl's shirt.

“I don’t know,” Fletcher said. “It might have been me.”

Fletcher told detectives he didn’t take the photos for sexual purposes. He said he thought they were “cute,” and likened it to taking photos of a baby’s bottom in the bathtub.

He also denied touching the girl’s breasts on purpose.

He said he had lain down with her and put his arm around her before and leaned his arms on her chest to kiss her goodnight before, and that she had moved his hands down, away from her breasts. Fletcher described those touches as “incidental.”

He also said the girl talked in her sleep and that he sometimes talked with her as she slept.

When asked why the victim would say he fondled her breasts, Fletcher said, “She probably dreamt it.”

Fletcher’s trial began Monday in Judge Peggy Kittel’s courtroom.

Contact public safety reporter Sara Shepherd
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