Alleged Sexual Assault Victim Testifies
April 6, 2016
The victim in a sexual assault case alleging 40 counts of sexual abuse by a Huntington man gave more than two hours of testimony Tuesday during the first day of trial in Cabell County Circuit Court.
Randall Pennington was indicted in September 2014 on 20 counts of second-degree sexual assault and 20 counts sexual abuse by a person in a position of trust. The case points to alleged incidents between Oct. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2013.
Cabell County prosecutors allege the incidents occurred at Pennington's home in the West End of Huntington when the alleged victim was 12.
During opening statements, assistant prosecutor Kellie Neal told the jury of 10 women and four men (two jurors are alternates) that the victim's mother was a single mother who trusted a lifelong friend to watch her child while she worked the night shift at a local hospital.
"When that trust is shattered it can be absolutely devastating to you as a parent. This case is about shattered trust," she said. "The shattered trust of a mother, who being a single, working mother with custody of a child, had to take that leap of faith and put her trust into a person who she thought was a friend, to watch her child while she worked."
Neal said the alleged victim had experienced embarrassment, anger and physical and mental pain since the alleged incident. She said he continues therapy to help cope with what happened.
Defense attorney Abe Saad countered with a quote from former President Ronald Reagan, "Trust, but verify."
On the stand Tuesday, the alleged victim said he stopped going to Pennington's home after his mother was in an argument with Pennington's wife. Prosecutors said the alleged victim had said to his mother he didn't want to go to their home any longer.
Neal said the mother became suspicious of the alleged victim's behavior and took him see a pediatrician and therapist. The alleged victim alleged physical and mental abuse by Pennington but did not reveal sexual assault until a discussion with a woman at his church. The woman's husband alerted child protective services, which initiated the investigation, according to testimony.
The alleged victim testified he was just trying to forget the situation ever happened. He also said Pennington threatened to kill his family if he told.
In the first hour of testimony, Neal had the alleged victim describe the details of 20 different incidents.
The alleged victim said the incidents happened every weekend during a three-month period in 2013 in the night when he would awake to find Pennington in the room with him while the rest of Pennington's family was in the home.
During cross-examination, Saad asked the alleged victim how the acts were done without waking anyone when the alleged victim previously made a statement that Pennington walked so loud he shook the refrigerator. The alleged victim said that was only when Pennington was mad.
The defense disputed several other claims the alleged victim made in his interview with authorities and on the stand. Saad said the alleged victim gave contradicting statements about a church trip to Rhode Island. He also pointed to a shoulder injury Pennington had during the time of the alleged incidents. The alleged victim said Pennington could still use his arm and was stronger than him.
The people to whom the alleged victim made all the statements are expected to testify later this week.
The trial will restart Wednesday morning with the resumption of questioning of the alleged victim.
Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/HesslerHD and via Twitter @Hessler_HD.