What a prosecutor described as pizza and movie nights between a 6-year-old girl and a family friend has evolved into a trial that will determine whether a New Windsor man is found guilty of rape.
The trial of 55-year-old Jay B. Eline began Monday after a three-hour jury selection process in Carroll County Circuit Court. 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.
Eline has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and Child Protective Services learned May 10 that a 6-year-old girl disclosed sexual abuse during a health class at a Carroll County school, according to charging documents. On May 14, police interviewed the child, who spoke of the abuse caused by Eline while she was temporarily in his care, charging documents allege. The victim’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, charging documents state.
Attorneys representing Eline and the state on Monday narrowed down a pool of approximately 88 jury candidates to seven men and seven women, two of them alternate jurors. As Judge Richard Titus gave his instructions to the jury, he noted that opening statements made by the prosecution and defense are not evidence.
Amy Ocampo, of the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office, is prosecuting the case on behalf of the state.
“A night of pizza, movies, and selfies” with Eline, a “family friend," led to the victim learning “things that a 6-year-old should not know about,” Ocampo said during her approximately 25-minute opening statement.
Ocampo painted a picture of the victim’s home life, which adults she interacted with on a regular basis, and her family’s relationship with Eline. She alleged the victim’s family allowed Eline to spend time with the child, that the girl asked to spend time with him and play on his computer.
Eline’s attorney, Lee McNulty, asked the jurors to keep in mind the credibility of witnesses and fallibility of human memory during his approximately 40-minute opening statement. Eline stood with McNulty during the testimony and jury selection process.
“Children’s memories are sometimes suspect,” McNulty told the court.
The state plans to call the child, now 7, to testify in court, according to Ocampo.
The abuse was revealed to police after the victim told two of her teachers about her experience and they reported their findings, according to Ocampo. The teachers testified in court Monday.
The victim told her grandmother and mother about the abuse before she spoke to her teachers, but they told the child not to tell anyone and that they would take care of it, Ocampo told the court.
One teacher said the child came to him after he taught a health lesson on “boundary setting” and personal safety at school. The victim raised her hand and made a statement about her experience in class, the teacher pulled her aside to learn more, then he contacted the principal and filed a report with Child Protective Services, he said.
Later that day, the victim shared her story with another teacher, who also testified Monday. The teacher said she noticed the child seemed unsettled after health class, so she pulled the child aside to inquire and learned what happened to her. That teacher also contacted the school principal and filed a report with the Department of Social Services, she said.
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The trial is scheduled to continue at 9 a.m. Tuesday.