posted on September 21, 2011 12:45
Prosecutors in Genesee County Court today played significant portions of a taped police interview with Ronald Smith, recorded this past January – just days after Smith was accused of committing his third and final sexual abuse act against a 7-year-old.
Before the video, Batavia Police Detective Kevin Czora told the court that he had taken a written statement from Ronald Smith just one day prior, which read (roughly):
"I have found out from a friend that I am being investigated for touching a 7-year-old girl....I was never alone with that little girl. I would come to the house to spend time alone with my own daughter, but (the victim) was never there....and I never touched that little girl."
But the video evidence told what seems to be a different story.
"I never touched her private parts," Smith started out, visibly upset and clapping his hands vigorously. "Never, never, never!" But when pressed by the investigators during the interview, Smith began to retreat.
"Maybe I touched her on accident, but it was when I was playing with her, when we were wrestling," Smith said. "If I did touch her – I never have – but if I did, it was on accident."
On the tape, Smith could be seen drawing a diagram of the exact way he says he was playing with the victim. According to Smith, he would lift the girl over his head, and then spin around in a sort of helicopter motion.
"I never intended for my hand to do that, but when I lifted her up over my head, she slipped...and my finger touched there," he said. Later, becoming visibly distraught, he swore on his own young daughter's life that he did not touch the victim in a molesting way, or for any sort of sexual gratification. He admitted to police that he had lied at first, but maintained his own gratification never came into play.
"I have conquered them sexual demons," he said, referring to his past sex offenses and convictions, "...and I have fought them and I still continue to fight them every day." At one point, Smith also appeared to fault the victim, saying he'd told her to stay away from him because he felt "nervous" and "scared" when she was around.
"She was clinging to me, and I told her to get the **** away and go outside and play, like she was supposed to," he recounted.
In closing arguments, Public Defender Gary Horton called the allegations "the type of crime that makes everyone cringe." But he told jurors that those feelings should have no bearing on their decision.
"We saw the video: did Ronald Smith ever vary from, 'I did not touch that little girl, not that way'?" Horton asked the jury. "Where is there a confession on that DVD?"
Horton also apologized for having to cross-examine the 7-year-old victim, which he said is only his job, but also admittedly made him uncomfortable. Despite that, Horton pointed to inconsistencies in the little girl's testimony, the difficulty the prosecution had in getting answers from her, and her inability to consistently recall certain details.
In her own summation, Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini replayed portions of the Smith tape, pointing out what she saw as inconsistencies in his testimony.
"In jury selection, I told you that this is like a car accident, in which one person says it was intentional, and the other says it was accidental," Cianfrini said. "But somebody doesn't hit a car three times accidentally. And this defendant did not touch this little girl, accidentally, three times."
The jury entered deliberation early this afternoon. A verdict may be reached today.