Couple Charged With Having Intercourse In Front of 9-Year-Old Daughter to Teach Her About Sex

A Woonsocket mother and her boyfriend are headed to trial on charges they had intercourse in front of the woman's 9-year-old daughter as a way to teach the girl about sex.

Rebecca Arnold, of Woonsocket, and her boyfriend, David Prata, have pleaded not guilty to felony child-neglect charges. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for next month.

When questioned by an investigator from the state Department of Children, Youth and Families, Prata, 33, said he and Arnold, 36, had sex "all the time" in front of the child and that "we don't believe in hiding anything."

He said the girl would often be on the bed watching as the couple had sex. Though they did not ask her to leave, they also did not force her to remain on the bed, Prata said.

Asked why he thought a child that age should know about sexual acts, Prata replied, "We wanted to prepare her so she would know how," according to a report from the investigator, Vanessa E. Cisela.

The girl, who is now 11, went to live with her biological father in North Adams, Mass., after spending the summer with her mother in Woonsocket.

Her teacher called the Child Abuse Hotline in December 2004 to report that the girl said her mother and her boyfriend had sex in front of her.

The child told a Massachusetts social services investigator that her mother and Prata never touched her or tried to include her in the sex.

Woonsocket police arrested Prata and Arnold in February 2005. The couple is accused of "providing an environment that is lewd and depraved in a manner that makes their home unfit for the child to live in," according to court records.

Prata and Arnold are free on bail pending a March 19 pretrial conference in Family Court. They each face one to three years in prison or a maximum $1,000 fine, or both.

Their lawyers did not return phone calls from The Providence Journal.