Sex Crimes

Teen who lived with Ohio guardsman 'had to tell someone' about alleged sex abuse of daughters

A teenager who lived with an Ohio National Guardsman now charged with sexually abusing his adopted daughters testified Wednesday that she confided about those allegations to a neighbor because she felt she had to tell someone.

The 19-year-old revealed the alleged abuse in 2012 after two girls described sexual acts the guardsman had forced them to do, the woman said on the third day of the guardsman's trial in Union County court.

Shortly thereafter, the woman was met by the guardsman and his wife at a hospital where she was volunteering and taken with only the clothes she was wearing to the airport and put on a plane to her adoptive parents in Idaho, she said. Prosecutors allege the action was to keep her from talking further.

The wife had warned her not to say anything, the woman testified.

"I was fed up. I was overwhelmed. I didn't know what to do with the information. I couldn't take it anymore and had to tell someone," the woman said under questioning from assistant state Attorney General Christopher Kinsler.

Under cross examination by defense attorney Darren McNeal, the woman said she wasn't abused, but added that the guardsman would beat her and yell at her and once grabbed her rear end. The woman, originally from Haiti, lived with the guardsman and his wife but wasn't adopted by them.

McNeal repeatedly asked why the woman didn't tell anyone about the girls' alleged abuse the day it happened and why she told the neighbor not to do anything. The woman said she was afraid of being sent away.

Prosecutors have portrayed the defendant as a man who betrayed the responsibility a father has for protecting his daughter in the worst way possible. The defense says the rapes never happened and pointed the finger instead at the man's stepson, who has never been implicated by authorities.

The defendant, 42, of Marysville in central Ohio, was originally charged in 2013, and the charges were updated last year. The charges include rape, sexual battery, gross sexual imposition, intimidation and tampering with evidence. He has pleaded not guilty.

Court documents indicate the girls were under 13 at the time they said the abuse occurred, with one as young as 5.

The defendant's wife is charged with intimidation and obstruction but not abuse. She pleaded not guilty, and her attorney declined to comment while the case is pending.

The Associated Press isn't naming the couple to protect the children's identities.

Earlier Wednesday, an adopted daughter who alleged sexual abuse said she was forced to recant in a letter of apology to several people under threat of being sent away from the family.

"I was mad I had to write an apology letter about something that wasn't true," the girl, now 16, told defense attorney George Leach during cross examination.

A local prosecutor said last fall that the children were no longer living with the father.

The guardsman remains a major with an Ohio National Guard unit out of Springfield and works one weekend per month, according to the organization's community relations office.

In a 2008 story in a military publication, the man spoke about his large family and about wanting to adopt a girl from Africa to protect her from sexual assault.