Child tells of alleged sexual abuse
A 9-year-old girl whose head was barely visible above the rail of the witness stand testified on Tuesday about the extensive amount of sexual abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of a Tyler man one year ago.
When Smith County Assistant District Attorney Whitney Tharpe asked the third-grader, whose favorite subject is art, what happened to her last Halloween, she replied "something really bad."
The child told jurors in the Smith County 114th District Court that David Burnett Williams, 48, touched her inappropriately and engaged in sexual acts with her when she was 8 years old in October 2011. Williams is charged with five counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and faces up to life in prison if convicted.
The girl, along with her mother and her aunt, all testified about the alleged abuse and their relationships with Williams. But Nao-mi Williams, the defendant's sister, expressed doubts about the child's truthfulness in her accusation of Will-iams, saying, "She can tell lies."
The child drew circles around body parts of both a male and female diagrams to show how the abuse occurred, saying the touching "didn't feel right," and "felt weird."
In her opening statements to the jury, Ms. Tharpe said the defendant abused the child when her mother, who worked nights as a certified nursing assistant, was asleep. When the girl's mother asked her if something had happened to her, the child told her what Williams had allegedly done. "Mom became very angry," Ms. Tharpe said. She added that the girl stopped talking when she saw how upset her mother was.
Defense attorney Brent Ratekin told the jury to only consider the evidence they heard from the witness stand and to take into account all the evidence as they deliberated. "It sounds bad. I won't sugarcoat it," Ratekin said.
The mother told jurors that she did not immediately go to the authorities when the child reported the abuse and waited for one week, which she said she knew was wrong.
She said her daughter refused to go to the police because the girl was afraid of what might happen at the police station. "She was afraid of police talking to her in a room and observing her," the mother said, because of what the child had seen on police television dramas.
The girl's mother said she learned about the Children's Advocacy Center of Smith County from a co-worker and took her child there, where she and her child talked to authorities and counselors.
The mother testified that she felt like, "Someone had punched me in the stomach," when she learned of the alleged abuse. "I was livid," she said.
Testimony will continue today.