‘I shouldn’t hide it anymore’Published 11:54pm Wednesday, November 2, 2011
A second alleged victim in the Niles “sextortion” case took the stand Wednesday during the trial for Martise Washington at the Niles Berrien County Courthouse.
Washington, 18, is one of five Niles teenagers facing multiple sex crime charges in connection with an alleged sex video extortion scandal.
The second victim alleges, like the first, that Washington and his friend, Leon Murphy, extorted sex from her by threatening to post sexually explicit content of her on Facebook.
The 16-year-old girl claims that Murphy obtained naked photos of her from his friend, Eugene Davenport, who had been romantically involved with her.
When Murphy texted the girl the photos on Feb. 3, he told her he wouldn’t delete them unless she went to his house, she told the jury.
When she arrived at the house, Murphy took her to his room. Washington later came in the room and began touching her legs. When she began texting her friend to tell her that she was scared, Washington took her phone.
“He said I wouldn’t get it back till he was done,” the alleged victim said. “Once he took my phone, I was real scared and I knew it was no joke.”
After Murphy and Washington threatened to post the photos of the girl on Facebook if she didn’t consent to sex, she performed oral sex on Washington, the victim said.
“I was so scared and terrified. I wanted to get it over with,” the alleged victim said.
Later, she engaged in sex acts with Murphy and Washington at the same time, she testified.
The alleged victim didn’t tell anybody immediately after the episode. She said she was ridiculed at school when the boys started a rumor that she willingly had a threesome with them.
“I got harassed a lot,” she said.
It wasn’t until May, after news broke about the alleged sex video scandal, that the girl told her family and then police about the incident.
During cross examination by Jim Jesse, Washington’s attorney, the girl explained why she waited to share the information with the police.
“I wanted to pretend like it never happened,” she said. “But I thought I shouldn’t hide it anymore…I should share my story too.”
Earlier in the proceedings Wednesday, the first victim, who alleges Washington and his four co-defendants used a sex video of her and Washington to extort sex from her, took the stand.
Prosecutor Steve Pierangeli showed the jury the opening seconds of the sex video that the alleged victim claims she didn’t know was being recorded during her encounter with Washington on March 14.
Pierangeli also displayed printouts of texts exchanged March 18 between Washington, Murphy and the victim, including threats to post the video onto Facebook if the girl didn’t have sex with the boys.
After begging the boys via text message to delete the video and them not agreeing, she consented to go to Murphy’s house where Murphy, Washington and co-defendant Parnell Miller each sexually assaulted her in Murphy’s room.
“I didn’t want to,” she told the jury during questioning from Pierangeli. “I was scared and felt like I had no choice.”
Murphy was first and then Washington demanded sex, the girl said. The victim alleged that when she began hitting Murphy, Washington grabbed her by the waist and said: “We did it before. Why can’t we do it again?”
Washington then took the girl into Murphy’s room where he had intercourse with her, the alleged victim said.
During cross-examination by Jesse, the girl said after she asked Washington several times to stop, he did.
Then Martin demanded oral sex, the alleged victim said, but Murphy’s stepfather intervened, kicking them out of the house.
When Jesse questioned the girl why she didn’t ask Murphy’s stepdad for help, she said she “didn’t know who he was or if he’d do something also.”
She said she then got in the car with the boys and was sexually assaulted again, forced into oral sex. When the girl gagged at one point, the defendants laughed, the girl said.
“I started to cry,” she said. “I said, ‘I don’t now how you do this to girls.’”
After she got home, she was shaking and crying and felt “sick and gross,” she testified.
During cross examination, the girl admitted that she had her cell phone in the car and could have contacted someone for help but didn’t.
At one point during the proceedings, Jesse called for a mistrial after what he thought was a prejudicial comment by Detective Richard Krueger, who was giving testimony. Judge Scott Schofield denied the request.
Early in the proceedings Wednesday, Pierangeli presented a letter written by Washington to Judge Schofield.
In it, Washington writes: “Your honor, I apologize to the victim, her family, my family and the community … If I could take back that night, I would do so in a heartbeat.”
In another letter written by the defendant to Schofield, he said: “I take full ownership of making a sex video of a 17-year-old minor.”