HAZARD – The trial of a Perry County man accused of subjecting a 9-year-old girl to sexual contact began in Perry Circuit Court this week.
The grand jury indicted 38-year-old Timothy Fugate in June 2011 on one count of first-degree sexual abuse after the juvenile told police that Fugate inappropriately touched her in the bedroom of a mobile home on Little Grapevine Creek in March 2011.
Fugate has maintained his innocence, and was released from the Kentucky River Regional Jail on home incarceration in December 2012 to await his trial, which began Monday morning with jury selection.
Commonwealth’s Attorney John Hansen began opening statements Monday afternoon, noting the extreme difference between the ages of the alleged victim, who is now 11, and Fugate, who was 36 at the time the abuse was alleged to have occurred.
“She knows what happened, (but) she doesn’t understand what happened,” Hansen said, noting she will testify during the trial. “She was nine. She was a child.”
Defense attorney Gerald Teaster’s opening statement concentrated on interviews conducted with the alleged victim following her allegations against Fugate. He said the jury will hear from an expert on forensic interviews who will testify those interviews were not conducted properly in order to prevent leading questions and answers free of contradictions.
“Things were missed, questions weren’t asked, inconsistencies were not challenged,” Teaster said during his opening statement. “He (the expert) will testify that based on this research, there is a high probability that there’s problems with [the victim’s] memory and recall, and she is misreporting what happened.”
Hansen called Kentucky State Police Det. Clayton Stamper, who was the initial responding investigator, as the first witness Monday afternoon. The trial will likely continue into Tuesday morning. If convicted, Fugate faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.