Tearful Mom Testifies in Former Norwich Pastor's Sex Abuse Trial
By Greg Smith
December 12, 2006
New London -- Immediately after taking the witness stand Monday, the mother of a girl who claims she was molested by her church pastor broke down in tears.
The Willimantic woman cried, pausing before completing the spelling of her first name while she was sworn in. She testified about finding her daughter's written account of alleged molestation at the hands of family friend Charles Johnson Jr., former pastor at Norwich Assembly of God.
Johnson has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. His trial started Monday with testimony from the alleged victim.
The woman, along with her husband, said she confronted their daughter while living in California, but decided at the daughter's request they would not go to authorities. The mother said her daughter was embarrassed and "adamantly said she didn't want anything done. She didn't want to confront anyone."
The six jury members are not being told the woman who testified Monday was one of several women from the Norwich Assembly of God who made claims of inappropriate behavior, which had occurred, at times, in public.
The behavior eventually led to Johnson's resignation in 2002, after 22 years as pastor.
That information is being suppressed by a court order after a motion by defense attorney Peter Bartinik Jr.
Attorneys are treading lightly on certain questions, such as when state prosecutor Theresa Anne Ferryman confirmed from the father that the two families had a "falling out," prior to the molestation allegations surfacing.
The allegations from the now-15-year-old alleged victim were revealed to authorities when she told her Connecticut high school teacher last year. The revelation led to a criminal investigation by Norwich police.
Reach Greg Smith at 425-4219 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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