By Jeff Lehr

Globe Staff Writer

Steven R. Lucas initiated sexual relations with her when she was 12 and kept them up for about two years before she finally told someone, a 16-year-old girl testified Wednesday at Lucas' trial in Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin.

Lucas, 44, of Carthage, is being tried on charges of second-degree statutory rape and second-degree statutory sodomy.

The prosecution finished presenting its case late Wednesday afternoon, and Circuit Judge David Dally sent jurors home for the night. The trial resumes at 9 a.m. today, with the defense to present its case.

Assistant Prosecutor Theresa Kenney called the alleged victim, a school counselor, a Carthage police detective, a child-abuse investigator with the Missouri Department of Social Services, and a nurse practitioner with the Children's Center in Joplin as witnesses to make the state's case against Lucas.

The girl told the court that Lucas made his first sexual advance toward her when she was 12. He felt her breasts on that occasion, she said.

After that, Lucas began performing oral sex acts with her and eventually initiated full sexual intercourse, she said. She testified that for the better part of two years, he forced her to have sex with him about once a week.

"I didn't really have a choice," she told the court. "I was scared of him."

She said that after about 21 months of the alleged abuse, she finally told a girlfriend that Lucas was "pressuring" her to have sex. She said that at the time, Lucas actually was suggesting to her that he would like her and her girlfriend to engage sexually so he could join in.

Testimony from the girl and other state witnesses revealed that the girlfriend told her boyfriend about the suggestion in October 2004, and the boy told his parents. A Carthage Junior High School counselor was informed of the matter, and the counselor called the alleged victim in to inquire about her friend's concerns for her.

She repeated what she had told her girlfriend to the counselor and a state child-abuse investigator, and Carthage police began an investigation.

While in foster care, the girl made a full disclosure to her foster mother in December 2004, alleging that Lucas had forced her to have sex with him repeatedly since she was 12.

Lucas' attorney, William Fleischaker of Joplin, told the jury in his opening statement that his client is a former cement truck driver and bakery worker who has never been convicted of anything other than traffic violations.

Fleischaker said the girl has never liked Lucas, and he suggested that her initial allegation of being "pressured" by him and her subsequent allegation of sexual abuse may have been triggered by an incident in September 2004 during which Lucas slapped the girl for yelling at her mother and calling her names.

Fleischaker also called jurors' attention to a forensic examination of the girl at the Children's Center after her allegation of sexual abuse. He said the exam found her hymen intact with no signs of penetration or sexual relations.

Fleischaker suggested that if his client, whose penis he said is pierced with metal studs, had sex with the girl as frequently as she claims, the findings of the exam would be unlikely.

Kenney called Lee Rodriguez, the nurse practitioner at the Children's Center who conducted the exam on the girl. Rodriguez testified that 95 percent of such exams show a "normal" hymen, with no tears or scarring, even if the girl or woman has been sexually active.