Girl, 15, testifies about years of being molested



The girl said she was scared the man accused of rape would kill her.
By ED RUNYAN
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A 15-year-old girl told a jury that her mother's boyfriend started molesting her at about age 8 and continued the abuse until a few months before she reported it at 13.
The girl, formerly of Girard, was the first witness to testify Tuesday in the rape trial of John H. Herrick, 35, of Girard. The case is being heard in Judge Andrew Logan's Trumbull County Common Pleas courtroom.
Herrick is charged with four counts of rape. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility after 10 years on each of two counts. He could be sentenced to three to 10 years in prison on each of the other two charges.
Diane Barber, assistant prosecutor, asked the girl about four specific episodes. She said the girl had a good recollection of the events, primarily because they occurred on easy-to-remember dates, such as New Year's Day in 2004.
The girl gave short answers but said the New Year's Day episode occurred in her bedroom. She asked Herrick to stop but he would not, she said.
Another rape occurred on her 13th birthday in Herrick's bedroom, the girl said.
She described Herrick's making a deal with her: He would buy her a Fur Real Friends cat toy if she would participate in a daily sex act with him.
She did not tell anyone about the rapes until March 2005 -- about five months after the last attack -- saying Herrick had threatened to kill her if she told anyone. The threat was made after the first attack when she was about 8, the girl said.
When she did tell adults at age 13 -- after she had moved in with her father in Youngstown -- she didn't tell them about one of the worst episodes right away, she said.
Asked why by Barber, she said, "because I was scared."
Defense
Defense attorney Dennis DiMartino of Boardman, in his opening statement to the seven-woman, five-man jury, said the case comes down to "someone saying something happened."
He said the prosecution will have no physical evidence to prove that any rapes occurred.
"Pay attention to the evidence from a young girl and her sister who didn't want to live with my client and his wife, but wanted to live with their father," DiMartino said.
DiMartino gave the jury a knowing look during his cross-examination of the girl, after asking her whether she had ever jumped on Herrick's lap while living with him. The girl said she had not.
"So if someone said you did, they'd be lying?" DiMartino asked.
"I did it sometimes," she said then.
Barber said she would present evidence from medical personnel.
runyan@vindy.com

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