|Victim, 12, Testifies to Sexual Abuse
By Vickie Welborn
October 3, 2007
MANSFIELD - A 12-year-old girl says the sexual abuse at the hands of a Stanley minister started by tickling.
It then progressed to him "putting his mouth on my privates," the girl testified Tuesday afternoon. "A lot," was her answer when asked how many times it happened.
The preacher, Burcham Paul Warren, 51, is on trial for aggravated rape of the girl, who was 11 when the alleged sexual assaults took place. He has pleaded not guilty.
The girl's testimony Tuesday morning was given only in the presence of court personnel and the jury after District Judge Robert Burgess granted a request from the state and defense to close the courtroom to spectators.
Burgess, however, today granted The Times' request to review the girl's taped testimony.
The girl, who is identified by name in the courtroom but not by The Times because of her age, was soft spoken and had to be reminded many times to speak louder. She remained composed until asked about the first time she was abused. She said she had not told anyone because she didn't think anyone would believe her because Warren is a minister.
The girl provided details of a few alleged sexual encounters with Warren. And she testified that she had told Warren to stop because he was hurting her.
She also testified about pornographic photographs shown to her on Warren's laptop computer of people "who were putting their privates on each other."
Assistant District Attorney Anna Garcie asked the girl if Warren explained why he showed her the photographs. She responded that he said he wanted her to not wonder "what it was like." Warren also allegedly told her if she told anyone then he would go to jail and she would go into foster care.
Her voice also showed emotion when she told Garcie that Warren threatened to withhold food from her dogs if she told. "I'm really protective of my dogs and I was scared he wouldn't feed them."
Garcie and defense attorney Rick Fayard, of Shreveport, also separately questioned the girl about a friend that the girl said also is one of Warren's victims. The girl also testified that another friend admitted sexual abuse to her.
The girl told Fayard that she believes one of the friends won't admit what happened to her because she is scared. And she told Fayard that she would not lie.
In the courtroom today, two of the girl's former classmates took the stand to tell what led up to their accompanying the girl to her teacher to report the alleged abuse. One of the friends, who is 12, said the girl told her she had been "raped" in a backroom at her house by Warren while a women's Bible study was going on.
That friend also denied that she ever told the girl she had been a sexual abuse victim. She said she and her parents were upset when she learned the girl told people that she had been abused.
Karen Marcott, a neighbor of Warren's and secretary of South Oak Grove Assembly of God Church, was asked about her former pastor's reputation in the community.
"He was a good man as far as I know," she said.
She also admitted that she was surprised that Warren had pornography on the laptop computer that the church purchased. But Marcott said it did not change her opinion on whether he was a good man.
Doris Haynes, of Carthage, Texas, was a former Sunday School teacher in Warren's church who taught the alleged victim. When asked by Fayard to describe the girl, Haynes said she was "sometimes attentive" but other times she was "angry" and didn't want to participate or read.
After Warren resigned as pastor, the girl's behavior appeared to be more relaxed and "care free," Haynes said.
Haynes said she never heard anything derogatory about Warren. "When his name is mentioned people say what a good person he is."
But when Garcie asked Haynes to describe the girl's reputation in the church, Haynes said it was known "she could tell lies."
"There was fear in the church of her" because of what had happened, Haynes said. "I did not trust her. ... I was afraid she would tell a lie on my husband or somebody else."
Asked Garcie: "What if she wasn't lying, Mrs. Haynes? Did you ever think about that?" "No," Haynes answered.
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