By JACOB PERRYMAN
A Spring Creek Township man was found guilty of indecent assault following less than 30 minutes of jury deliberation Monday morning.
Eugene L. Muzzy Jr., 5059 Oil Creek Rd., Spartansburg, faced charges stemming from an incident of inappropriate contact with a 12-year-old girl which occurred during the night of Aug. 17-18, 2012 at his Spring Creek trailer.
Trooper Jeffrey Osborne of Warren-based state police charged Muzzy reached under the girl's clothing touching her chest and buttocks areas following a report of the incident and a subsequent interview with Muzzy on Aug. 28.
The prosecution outlined the circumstances surrounding the incident based on Osborne's report and witness testimony.
On the night of Aug. 17, the girl and other members of her family including her mother were at Muzzy's trailer spending the night as Muzzy was a friend of the family. Late that evening, Muzzy and some of his guests went onto his porch to look at the stars. Some time between approximately midnight and two a.m. on Aug. 18, Muzzy was alone sitting on the steps with the girl, who was, "sitting on the stairwell below him," when the incident occurred. The following day, the girl informed her mother and stepfather that Muzzy had touched her inappropriately.
"I'm going to have as a witness a quiet, little, 12-year-old girl who's going to tell you how he (Muzzy) touched her private areas," Warren County District Attorney Ross McKeirnan said during opening statements.
He also highlighted statements from Muzzy's police interview for the jury including, "my hand could have slipped in there" and, "sometimes your arm doesn't know what it's doing." Of that assertion McKeirnan said, "I've been doing these trials for years and sometimes I'm still surprised."
Attorney Alan Conn, who defended Muzzy, pointed out the evidence consisted of, "one 12-year-old girl's accusations about what happened," and noted Muzzy had consistently denied wrong-doing.
The girl testified Muzzy had, "put his hand up my shirt and down my pants," while he was alone with her and that she had told him to stop.
She also attested Muzzy had given her presents, including necklaces and a touchscreen phone, prior to the incident.
During cross-examination, Conn asked the girl if she was tired and may not have been thinking clearly due to the late hour at which the incident occurred.
"No," the girl responded. "When I stay up I can think pretty clearly."
Conn also asked if there was a possibility the contact was accidental. The girl answered that it was not.
She also told Conn she went inside approximately one hour after the incident, but did not immediately go to sleep.
Osborne attested the incident was initially reported to police by (the Department of) Human Services, which also took part in the initial interview with the girl.
He testified the girl's court testimony matched information given in her initial interview.
Following the report, Osborne attested he arranged an interview with Muzzy before moving forward with charges.
According to Osborne, "The gist of what Mr. Muzzy indicated was... she was there that night... she was there with several of her siblings... she was sitting on the stairwell below him... she was cold, so he gave her his jacket... he said he did have his arms around her and his hands on her belly."
Conn asked Osborne whether Muzzy admitted to or denied touching the victim as she described.
"Sir, I've never ever had anybody admit that to me," Osborne responded.
Osborne also attested Muzzy's statements about gaining the victim's trust were, "a pretty good indicator something is awry."
In closing, Conn said, "These accusations are based solely on the statements of one 12-year-old girl with no corroborating evidence... I'm not saying she's deliberately lying, just that she's a 12-year-old girl and she was tired."
McKeirnan closed by praising the girl's bravery in being willing to testify in court and said, "I don't think a 12-year-old would make something like this up."
On the lack of corroborating evidence McKeirnan said, "When people are molesting children, they do it when no one is looking."