A 12-year-old girl testified Tuesday that when she spent a night a year ago at Arch “Keith” Robinson’s Carthage home, he molested and sexually assaulted her inside a “fort” that she and a sibling had constructed in his living room.
“He touched me,” the girl testified on the first day of the 61-year-old Robinson’s trial in Jasper County Circuit Court on charges of statutory sodomy with a child under 12 years old and second-degree child molestation.
They fashioned a “fort” in the living room out of sheets, hair ties and chairs, beneath which the girls were to sleep. Robinson crawled in with them to watch videos on his phone, she said.
He touched her inappropriately both over and under her clothing, and put his mouth over her mouth before going to his bedroom, she testified.
She said she woke her sister up and told her what had happened, but the younger girl fell back asleep.
She said she got up and retrieved her phone from another bedroom and sent text messages to her mother, father and grandmother, telling them what the defendant had done. When she did not get any immediate response, she tried calling her parents but hung up without talking to either one out of fear the defendant might hear her.
Defense attorney Teresa Grantham questioned the girl about who else was in the house that night, and she acknowledged that a boy and a relative were in an adjacent bedroom watching television. She also acknowledged that she had gone into that room to get her phone without telling them what happened.
“I don’t know,” she said when asked why. “I just didn’t.”
She returned to the fort to await some response from her parents, thinking the defendant would not be back that night, she testified. But he did come back and resumed his unwanted advances, she told the court.
During opening statements, Grantham told the jury of seven women and five men selected to hear the case that none of the state’s other witnesses can say they saw Robinson touch the girl and that their job is not to believe her simply because it’s ‘”the safe decision” for jurors to reach.
She said police questioned Robinson for hours and he steadfastly maintained his innocence and still does to this day because the girl is not telling the truth. Grantham asserted that when a child makes an allegation of sexual abuse, child abuse investigators, unfortunately, tend to be predisposed to believe them.
Fisher called the girl’s sister as a potentially corroborating witness. The 10-year-old girl, who was 9 at the time, said that she recalled the defendant being at the two girls’ feet when he crawled into the tent. They both had blankets, but her older sister’s was covering just her feet as she recalled.
Fisher asked if she saw anything touch her sister.
She said she saw Robinson’s hand touch her sister.
And was it moving over her sister’s body?
“Yes,” she said.
Grantham asked the younger sister if she remembered telling the defense attorney during a recent deposition that her sister told her that Robinson had put his hand under her shirt, but she had not seen that herself.
“Yes,” the girl at first said, but subsequently twice denied recalling that she told Grantham that she could not recall seeing him put his hand under her sister’s shirt.
Grantham asked if she saw him put his mouth on her sister’s mouth, and the girl said she did not. Grantham asked if she saw his hand under her sister’s blanket and she said she could not remember. When asked yet again if she recalled seeing him put his hand under her shirt, she responded: “I think I can remember him putting it up her shirt.”
She then answered Fisher on redirect examination that she could recall both what her sister told her had happened and what she saw him do.
The trial will resume Wednesday with the state still presenting evidence.