Friday, October 29, 2010

Incest trial

Father found guilty in NJ incest case

Associated Press Writer

PATERSON, N.J. (AP) -- A New Jersey man whose apocalyptic visions allegedly led him to rape his five daughters and terrorize his family for years was found guilty Wednesday of sexually assaulting a daughter who testified that she bore him a child.

The jury deliberated for less than three hours over two days before finding the man guilty on all of the eight counts in the first of five separate trials - one for each daughter he is accused of victimizing.

The man showed no reaction to the verdict, other than keeping his eyes closed for extended periods while several of the counts were read.

Jurors endured more than three weeks of testimony that at times - especially when the daughter testified against her father - was so sexually explicit and graphic that one juror exiting the courtroom after Wednesday's verdict yelled out: "It's over! Finally we can breathe."

The daughter, now 24, testified the man began sexually assaulting her when she was 8, and then regularly raping her until she bore him a child at 15.

Forensics experts testified earlier in the trial that DNA profiles showed the defendant was likely the father of his own grandchild.

The Associated Press doesn't identify victims of sexual crimes and is not reporting the names of the man, his former wife or any family members to protect the identities of the children, now over 18.

The jury got the case Tuesday. Shortly before leaving, they sent the judge a note asking for excerpts from the daughter's testimony that seemed to indicate they were trying to determine what age she had been when various alleged assaults took place.

Both the daughter and the man's former wife testified that he had insisted that most of his children be born at home so they wouldn't have birth certificates or social security numbers. The women also testified he kept the children from seeing doctors, home-schooled them, made them follow an extreme vegetarian diet and enforced his will with regular beatings.

They said he spoke often of being a prophet who believed in keeping his bloodlines pure. The daughter testified that her father told her at age 8; "If he has a child with one of his own children, then it will be a supreme being."

The man, who took the stand in his own defense, said his wife and daughter had been brainwashed by a former family spiritual adviser who was trying to steal the man's business ventures.

He said all choices as to how the children were raised had been jointly made with his wife, in the interest of holistic child rearing.

The man's brother said outside of court Wednesday that the allegations were impossible, adding the man, his wife, and their 9 children were frequently at family gatherings, with the kids always impeccably dressed, well-behaved, smart, polite and social.

"Something doesn't add up; we as a family, we've never seen any of this," he said.

Superior Court Judge Raymond A. Reddin presided over the case in Paterson, about 15 miles west of New York City, where the family had lived for many years.

Defense Attorney Daryl Pennington questioned the credibility of the witnesses and argued that no one could say with certainty what the daughter's real age was, and by extension, whether the alleged assaults had been charged under the proper age-sensitive legal statutes.

Passaic County Senior Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Squitieri countered the daughter had obtained a birth certificate later in life in order to enroll in college, and attacked the defendant's credibility by showing transcripts she said proved he lied about everything from his SAT scores to having been an Eagle Scout.

Having been ruled competent to stand trial earlier this year, the man faces a total of 27 charges in all the cases, including aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, lewdness, child endangerment, aggravated criminal sexual contact and criminal sexual contact.

He faces up to 40 years in prison when he's sentenced on January 7, 2011.

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