The trial of a former news reporter accused of child sexual assault is underway in Bergen County. The first witness to testify was the 8-year-old girl, whom prosecutors say the man sexually abused when she was 4 years old. However, during her two hours of testimony, the little girl repeatedly said that her former nanny told her what to say to a therapist who inquired about the allegations. The little girl also insisted numerous times that the defendant did not touch her in a sexual way.

The child’s statements support claims that the defendant’s wife has made since her husband’s arrest. In 2010, she publicly said that her husband was set up by the little girl’s nanny. The wife went on to say that a polygraph test had indicated that her husband wasn’t lying. In New Jersey, however, the results of a polygraph test cannot be shown to jurors.

The child who testified reportedly handled the prosecutor’s questions with composure. At one point, the girl indicated that she was frightened by the nanny.

According to the prosecution, the criminal investigation commenced after the nanny expressed concerns of abuse to the parent of another child.

The accused man’s defense attorney opted not to cross-examine the little girl; instead, the defense brought a sex abuse expert to ask the child questions about her prior statements.

At one point, the little girl said that the nanny had “threatened to put cheese down [the little girl’s] brother’s throat,” and that cheese was her brother’s “worst thing.” According to the testimony, the nanny also made the girl and her brother “clean the house top-to-bottom.”

The case is further complicated by the prosecution’s claim that the defendant tried to delete child pornography that investigators found on his computer. It remains to be seen whether or not that material can be linked beyond a reasonable doubt to the defendant.

Claims of child sexual abuse are extremely serious, and anyone accused of such a crime will need a strong criminal defense. In these matters, sometimes misunderstandings do occur, and a careful examination of the facts may be necessary to set the record straight.

New Jersey residents will undoubtedly want to follow the Bergen County case as it progresses.

Source: Cliffview Pilot, “Girl, 8, in sex-assault trial says Fox TV reporter didn’t molest her,” Jan. 7, 2014