Moore Jury Hears Taped Testimony from Victim
By Casey Knaupp
Tyler Morning Telegraph
July 12, 2006
EDITOR'S NOTE: The names of the victims in this article are not identified in keeping with the Tyler Morning Telegraph's policy to protect the identities of victims of sexual abuse and to encourage the reporting of such crimes.
"I can't," the 8-year-old cried each time she was asked to tell the 12 members of the jury what "Brother Jeff" did to her when she was in his day care center.
The girl, dressed in a blue dress and wearing a white bow in her brown curly hair, was taken off the witness stand after she broke down and couldn't go on with questioning from prosecutors.
But in a taped interview with law enforcement, the girl, who was 6 at the time, explained how Jefferson Marian Moore Jr., whom she knew as "Brother Jeff," raped and molested her when she attended the Dogwood City Preschool and Daycare.
Moore, 58, was the owner of the center at 22284 Texas Highway 155 South, which has been closed since the investigation began in December 2004. He is also a preacher at a church next door to the day care and his guitar shop. He is on trial for aggravated sexual assault of a child. He faces five years to life in prison if convicted by the Smith County jury in 7th District Judge Kerry Russell's court.
Russell said the jury could hear the victim's testimony later through video so she wouldn't have to be in the courtroom.
The jury was shown the taped interview that former Smith County Sheriff's Department Detective Peggy Scott did with the victim on Dec. 19, 2004. Hesitant and crying, the girl said that "Brother Jeff touched me where he wasn't supposed to" at naptime the day before.
The victim explained to Ms. Scott how she was sodomized and molested, and said it felt really bad and hurt her. She said that she bled, that the sexual abuse had been happening for "a long time," and that she was scared.
Ms. Scott said it is difficult for child victims of sexual abuse to talk about what happened to them, and each time they have to tell the story, they are traumatized again.
The victim's mother said her daughter began attending Moore's day care center when she was 2 and continued to go there occasionally even after she began school.
The victim told her mother that on Dec. 18, 2004, when she was 6, "Brother Jeff" had sex with her during naptime. Her knees were shaking and she started crying as she described how Moore had sexually assaulted her several times.
The victim's mother said she couldn't believe it; she had known Moore nearly all of her life and she trusted him. She said she called 911 and took their daughter to a hospital where she was examined. Doctors also discovered that the girl had a urinary tract infection, she said.
She said her daughter has very bad nightmares and is scared to sleep alone in her room. When they pass the day care, she shakes and cringes, the mother said, and the girl now has very low self-esteem because she believes everyone knows what happened to her. When she saw Moore after the incident, she became upset and asked why he wasn't in jail, the mother said.
She said her daughter's nightmares began when she was about 4½. And about two years before she reported it, they took her to the hospital when a teacher noticed that she was bleeding, but the doctors were unable to determine the cause.
She said her daughter, who is in the third grade, still can't sleep through the night, and hasn't been able to since she was 2 or 3.
Assistant Smith County District Attorney Jason Parrish, who is prosecuting the case with Steven Comte, told the four-man, eight-woman jury during opening statements that a sexual predator was finally discovered in the community because of the victim's outcry.
Defense attorney Jeffery Clark reserved his opening statement until the state rested its case.
Moore, of Flint, has been indicted on three first-degree felony counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child for three different victims.
The other children who made the allegations are 7 and 4. Moore has been out on bond and allowed to continue preaching since he was arrested and released from jail in May 2005.
Casey Knaupp covers county, state and federal courts. She can be reached at 903.596.6289. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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