Rape trial of homeless man begins

By John W. Goodwin Jr.



A Mahoning County jury is hearing the case against a homeless Campbell man accused of dragging a teenage girl into an abandoned house and sexually assaulting her in 2009.

Charles Hudson, 55, who gives no permanent address but was arrested at an abandoned house in Campbell, is charged with rape and kidnapping.

The case is being tried in the courtroom of Judge Lou D’Apolito of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Police said the 15-year-old, a 10th-grader at Campbell Memorial High School at the time, was abducted at knife point on Tremble Avenue near 13th Street around 7 a.m. Oct. 12 a few streets away from her home. She was taken to an abandoned house on Gordon Avenue, where the rape occurred.

In her opening statement, Natasha Frenchko, an assistant county prosecutor, told jurors that prosecutors have no doubt that Hudson is the man responsible for abducting and raping the teen.

“The evidence will show that the defendant Charles Hudson is a dangerous and violent man and that he assaulted and raped a 15-year-old girl,” Frenchko said.

The victim took the stand Tuesday and said the incident left her paralyzed with fear.

“I didn’t know what to think. I thought he was going to hurt me,” she said. “I thought I was going to die that day.”

Frenchko told the jurors that the victim, now 17, is a good student with a part-time job at a department store. She said the girl plays soccer and is involved in school student programs.

Frenchko said the girl normally walks to school with a friend, but on the day of the incident her friend was late so she walked alone. The prosecutor said Hudson grabbed the girl, placed a knife to her neck and led her to an abandoned house where she was assaulted. She said the girl was able to escape only after Hudson went to another room and left her alone.

The girl later picked Hudson out of a photo lineup, naming him as her attacker.

Atty. Fernando Mack, a Cleveland attorney representing Hudson, asked the jurors not to make any rush judgments against his client or become consumed by the age difference between the girl and Hudson. He said there is no doubt the teen left walking for school alone and had some interaction with Hudson.

“That is where the agreement ends,” he said to the jury. “At the conclusion of this trial, you will have more questions than answers. ... No one will be able to say whether that [sex] act was consensual or forceful. ... We are hopeful that your common sense will prevail.”

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