posted on September 20, 2011 14:29
EDITOR’S NOTE: WBTA News is protecting the identity of the young victim. As such, some names are changed and some locations omitted. For reader’s reference, the 7-year-old alleged female victim will be hereforth referred to as “the victim.” The victim’s mother will be referred to as “Diane.” The victim’s adult neighbor on an undisclosed City of Batavia street will be referred to as “Joann.”
A 7-year-old alleged victim set an ominous tone in Genesee County Court this morning, in the sex abuse trial against Ronald Smith. When Judge Robert Noonan asked if she understood the difference between a truth and a lie, she replied, “Yes.” And when the Judge asked her to explain the difference, she said: “If you don’t tell the truth, you go to jail.”
Ronald Smith is facing up to 21 years in jail if convicted on all counts at trial, and today the prosecution inferred that he deserves every single one.
“Ronald Smith is a creature of opportunity, and he looked and found that opportunity in Batavia,” Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini told the jury. She insisted that the jury would hear in Smith’s prior recorded testimony that he was alone in the presence of the victim, and that he did touch her inappropriately, several times between October 2010 and January 2011.
“This was no accident…he touched the victim for sexual gratification,” Cianfrini said.
But Assistant Public Defender William Harper insisted that nothing is proven, resorting to the ages-old standby: the defendant is presumed innocent.
“That is one of the cornerstones of our criminal justice system,” Harper told jurors. “If the people (prosecution) cannot dispel reasonable doubt, then they have failed in their burden, and you must find ‘not guilty.’”
Then, in an unorthodox move, Cianfrini called the case’s primary witness, first: the young victim herself. The victim told the courtroom that “Ronny” is the father of her 1 year-old baby sister, and last October, Smith began coming to the victim’s house to see his infant daughter. That’s when the victim alleges the “touching” began. According to her testimony, Smith touched her “private parts” on three separate occasions when the victim was left with Ronald Smith, after her mother “Diane” went across the street to meet her friend “Joann.” Each time, Smith told the victim not to tell anyone what had happened – “or I’d get grounded,” the victim said. She testified that she told Smith to “stop it” on each occasion.
But under cross-examination, the victim became visibly confused when Public Defense Attorney Gary Horton asked if she was touched “on her bare skin” or on her clothes. She recalled wearing jeans and underwear, and said that neither she nor Smith took them off her. Cianfrini later questioned the point again – the victim eventually revealed that Smith had “reached” inside her clothing.
“Are you nervous to be here today?” Cianfrini asked. “Yes,” the victim replied.
“Is it difficult for you to answer these questions in front of the court?” Cianfrini asked her. Again, the victim quietly replied, “Yes.”
The only other witness called this morning was “Joann,” the neighbor across the street. She testified to confirm that the victim’s mother “Diane” had come over several times between October 2010 and January 2011, and had left the victim alone at home with Smith on those occasions.
Ronald Smith was present during this morning’s testimony, dressed in a white button-down and dress slacks. He intently watched and took notes during the morning session.
The prosecution’s case was set to resume at 3:00pm this afternoon. Proceedings are expected to wrap up tonight, with summations and jury deliberation tomorrow.