Testimony continues in abuse case

ELKINS – Testimony in a sexual assault case continued Thursday, with the alleged victim, an 11-year-old girl, describing instances of forced oral sex and touching.

The trial of Derek Shifflett, 31, of Elkins is expected to continue today in Randolph County Circuit Court, when the defendant takes the stand on his own behalf. He likely will address the alleged victim’s statements, which described instances of abuse she indicated occurred during the course of a year.

Assistant Prosecutor Christina Harper began questioning the girl Thursday on the witness stand by asking her to explain the difference between telling the truth and a lie as well as the difference between right and wrong. The girl responded to this line of questioning by saying,”It is wrong to tell a lie.”

The girl said she lives with her grandmother but she used to reside with her mom and Shifflett. Harper then asked her to describe her relationship with the defendant.

“I know that some of the questions that I am going to ask are going to make you feel a little uncomfortable, but just try to answer as honestly as you can, OK?” Harper instructed. “Has (Shifflett) ever done anything to you that you knew was wrong?”

The girl responded by describing instances of sexual assault, including forced oral sex and touching.

The alleged victim said the abuse mostly occurred at night and in different rooms throughout the house.

“Did you ever say ‘no’ or ask (Shifflett) to stop?” Harper asked.

“Yes,” the girl responded.

“What would happen if you would try to resist?” the prosecutor inquired.

“He would say that it wouldn’t take that long,” the girl said.

“Did he ever hurt you physically?” Harper asked her.

“Yeah,” the girl replied.

“Could you tell me about that?” Harper asked.

“He would bend my arm back if I tried to stop,” the girl said.

“Did he ever threaten you?” Harper asked.

“He said that if I told he would make my life miserable,” the girl answered.

The alleged victim explained how frequently such incidents occurred. She indicated sexual contact happened approximately five times per month – or an estimated 40 times in total – from September 2011 until September 2012, when the abuse was reported to law enforcement.

She indicated the contact decreased in December 2011 because she reported the abuse to her mother. However, despite that report, she alleged the abuse resumed in January 2012.

The alleged victim testified she told her mother “two or three times,” the first of which was when the two of them were watching television. The girl said her mother planned to talk to Shifflett about the abuse, and she later heard them discussing the issue.

When the abuse didn’t stop, the girl told the court she broached the subject again with her mother. This time, she said she and her mother confronted Shifflett with the allegations.

“What did he say (during the confrontation)?” Harper asked the girl.

“He said ‘I’m sorry. I’m a sick man.'” the girl replied.

When asked, the alleged victim acknowledged her mom caught Shifflett as he was engaged in sexual contact with her. She described an incident one night when Shifflett was in her bedroom and the lights were off. She said her mother found them and asked what was happening.

“What was (Shifflett) doing when your mom came into your bedroom?” Harper asked.

“He was trying to get me to be quiet,” the girl answered.

The girl said she eventually reported the abuse to a friend. The girl said the only other people she told after her mother and her friend were Allyson Scott, a Child Protective Services worker, and later, Angela Boville, a Youth Health Services counselor.

She testified she began therapy with Boville after the allegations became public. She said she learned many different things in therapy, including how to address issues involving sex and abuse. This topic later resulted in about an hour testimony by Boville.

Before that, the alleged victim described how it is difficult to talk about the details of the abuse because it is embarrassing for her. Because of that, she said she left some details out when she initially spoke to Boville, and during the subsequent medical examination, when, due to this embarrassment, she only reported Shifflett had engaged in oral sex with her.

Shifflett’s defense attorney, Chris Cooper, during the girl’s cross-examination, asked if she ever told anybody that Shifflett forced her to engage in any sexual acts other than oral sex.

“Have you ever told a lie?” Cooper asked.

“Yeah,” she said.

“Do you know when you would have told a lie?” Cooper continued.

“To my parents,” she answered.

The other witness to take the stand for the prosecution, in addition to the alleged victim and Boville, was Cpl. A.S. Loudin, with the Elkins Detachment of the West Virginia State Police. He introduced an audio recording of an interview he conducted with Shifflett. The recording featured Loudin confronting Shifflett with the accusations and attempting to obtain a confession from him. Shifflett denied all allegations against him.

After Loudin, the defense presented its opening statements. Cooper then called three members of Shifflett’s family – Mary Francis Shifflett, Kimberly Thompson and Cody Thompson – to testify. Each provided specific details regarding the nature of the family and how it functions before the defense rested for the day.

Shifflett was indicted on 50 counts of first-degree sexual assault, a felony; 50 counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian, a felony; and 50 counts of incest, a felony.

On Jan. 2, Parker moved to dismiss 66 of the 150 counts against Shifflett, “based on information that (the state) had obtained in preparation for the case.”

Contact Chad Clem by email at cclem@theintermountain.com.