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Girl testifies at trial that she was molested



Published: Sat, July 27, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The girl said she was lying when she recanted her story.

By JoANNE VIVIANO

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- She grasped a tissue and fingered a silver chain while Larry W. Sapp sat quietly, a cover-worn Bible before him.

The 15-year-old girl turned her head away from him, sobbing repeatedly as she told a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court jury that Sapp, a relative whom she loved and trusted, had improperly touched and molested her over a four-year period.

Sapp, 44, of Struthers, faces several counts of rape and gross sexual imposition. A jury of three men and nine women is hearing the case in Judge R. Scott Krichbaum's court.

Under questioning by assistant county prosecutor Deena Calabrese, the girl said the abuse began when she was about 10 and ended after she told a school counselor in October 2000, when she was 14.

She said she was abused in her home, on a camping trip in Pennsylvania and on a vacation in Orlando, Fla. She said the abuse made her uncomfortable and she often pretended to be asleep.

More testimony

Sapp told her not to tell about the abuse or he could be jailed, she testified. After one episode, he gave her pain reliever, she said. After another, he left money on her night stand, she said.

When the girl was asked if she wanted Sapp to go to jail, she said, "No ... I still love him."

When asked to point him out in the courtroom, she looked away and said, "I can't. I'm sorry, I can't," before looking toward him in tears.

The girl also testified she had gone to Sapp's attorney, John B. Juhasz, in April 2001 and recanted her story. She said she accused Sapp of the molestation because she was angry about how he had acted when she was with boys.

She said she recanted because "everything down here [in court] was taking so long, everyone in school was finding out ... I didn't think it would take that long."

She said she didn't want the issue hanging over her head as she started high school.

Also during her testimony, the girl told Juhasz she lied when he took the statement from her in April 2001, and she had refused to take an oath at the time because she knew she was lying.

In the statement, when Juhasz asked if she was "absolutely for certain" that the abuse didn't happen, she told him yes.

In testimony, she told Juhasz, "I lied to you about everything."




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