The 7-year-old girl who was allegedly raped by a New Windsor man testified in court Tuesday, describing the alleged abuse and the close connection he built with her for months beforehand.
The trial of 55-year-old Jay B. Eline continued Tuesday morning in Carroll County Circuit Court after beginning Monday afternoon. Eline was charged May 21 with sex abuse of a minor, and two counts each of second-degree rape, second-degree assault, and third-degree sex offense, according to online court records. He is being held without bond, court records show.
The child was 6 years old when the alleged offenses occurred. The girl, now 7, told her story to the jury Tuesday. As she spoke, she often clutched a stuffed animal and sometimes spun around in her chair at the witness stand.
“When we were watching a movie he wanted me to touch his private part,” the child testified.
In the first day of the trial, Amy Ocampo of the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office painted a picture of the child and Eline having pizza and movie nights that led to the allegations of sexual abuse.
As the child answered Ocampo’s questions, she explained how she came to know the man she called “Mr. Jay.”
He lived in a camper that rests in the bed of his pickup truck near the child’s grandmother’s home in New Windsor. The child’s mother and grandmother, both of whom also testified Tuesday, said Eline was welcomed into the family as a friend, often appearing in their home, as well as celebrating birthdays and holidays. The grandmother testified that her boyfriend, with whom she resides, allowed Eline to park his camper on the property when he moved to the area. Though the child said she does not live with her grandmother, she visits frequently.
The child explained what Eline allegedly did to her in sometimes graphic detail, though she struggled to remember specifically when the alleged abuse occurred. According to charging documents, the child’s mother told police the abuse occurred twice at Eline’s residence, during movie nights held after Valentine’s Day 2019, and on April 22, 2019.
The child testified that Eline told her to touch his “private part” during a movie night, and she did. She also said Eline did things of a sexual nature to her, though not intercourse.
The alleged abuse came to light when the child spoke to two of her teachers at a Carroll County public school May 10, the teachers said in court Monday.
Jill Moore, a Carroll County Sheriff’s Office detective who handles child sex abuse cases, and Kara Finamore, a child protective services supervisor with Carroll County Department of Social Services, testified as to what they learned from interviews with the child May 14. An audio recording of that first interview was played in court Tuesday.
“He said if you want to come in my bed you have to take your clothes off,” the child said in the recording.
‘My world shattered’
The child, in the recording, spoke of pizza and movie nights with Eline and the alleged abuse that occurred during them. After one of those nights, shortly after Easter in 2019, the child told her mother what occurred, the mother testified.
Her daughter said she couldn’t go back to her grandmother’s house, the mother said. The mother recalled asking why, and the child told her because Eline had a “rule” she could not watch movies with him unless she was naked in his bed, the mother testified.
The mother also described Eline as a “friend of my mother’s” who played with her daughter and “babysat” her at times, but that relationship changed after her daughter revealed the alleged abuse.
“My world shattered," the mother testified. "I was cast into a waking nightmare. The one thing I didn’t want to have happen to my daughter happened.”
Ocampo asked the mother why she did not immediately report the alleged abuse to police. The mother said she had been “molested” when she was a young child and hearing her daughter’s story reminded her of her experience. She said she needed time to “get my head on straight” and went to a rape crisis center for help. The grandmother testified that the child told her about the abuse the day after a movie night with Eline, and the grandmother told the child’s mother.
The mother testified she did not explicitly tell the child not to tell anyone about what Eline allegedly did to her, while the grandmother said she told the child not to tell anyone, that she would take care of the matter. Ocampo said Monday in her opening statement that the mother and grandmother of the child told her not to tell.
The mother and grandmother said they confronted Eline together, and he told them the child had walked in on him in the bathroom. The grandmother testified that the child initially told her that what happened with Eline was a dream, then said it happened in reality.
Both Ocampo and Lee McNulty, the attorney representing Eline, separately asked the child whether she knew the difference between truth and a lie. She replied that she understood the difference but appeared confused at times at some follow-up questions.
On cross examination from McNulty, Finamore said a little less than three hours transpired between Finamore’s first and second interview with the child, both on May 14, during which Moore was also present. After the first interview, the child’s mother was contacted to drive the child to the Carroll County Advocacy and Investigation Center, the mother testified.
McNulty questioned what the child’s mother might have said to her during the car ride from school and whether it could have affected the child’s story. The mother said she told the child she was “proud” of her for speaking up but a “little disappointed” because the mother had planned to report the incident to police that same day, she testified.
The child was first interviewed at school, Moore testified, because they were unsure of whether the child’s parents were hiding the abuse after they did not report it immediately.
Ocampo attempted to play the video recording of the interview at the advocacy center, but technical difficulties affected the sound quality. Judge Richard Titus said the video would be made available to jurors during deliberation. Less than five minutes of the approximately hour-long video were shown in open court before McNulty objected to the sound quality.
McNulty asked what assurance Finamore could provide that she did not say something to the child before the audio recording of their first interview began. Finamore offered her testimony, saying she likely had a brief introduction to the child before activating the recording device.
During Moore’s testimony, the detective said she served a search warrant on Eline’s camper May 21. Police found 31 images of the child on Eline’s computer, which were shown in court. Many of them depicted the child, some of them showing Eline and the child on his bed in the camper, Moore testified. The file data of the photos dated back to Aug. 9, 2018, and as recently as April 5, 2019, Moore said. The child and Eline appeared to be clothed in the photos.