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Hung jury declared in rape trial
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Jurors returned deadlocked Tuesday in a case against a man accused of molesting a young girl for more than a decade, the abuse allegedly beginning when she was just 4 years old.
“In my world, he’s still a monster,” the girl, now a late teen, said from the witness stand during the trial of accused child molester John David Smartt Jr., 47. “I’m almost 20 now and I still can’t make eye contact with him.”
Jurors voted nine to convict and three to acquit following the two-day trial that ended with Circuit Court Judge Bart Stanley declaring a mistrial Tuesday afternoon. Smartt faced serving the rest of his life in prison had he been convicted on the top charges of child rape.
Smartt sat stoically beside his attorney, Josh Crain, at the defense table during the often-graphic testimony. The girl testified about the abuse she allegedly endured at the hands of Smartt, detailing several of the incidents during her time on the stand Monday afternoon.
“That’s just one in 100,” the girl said, noting the sexual abuse happened regularly when she was a child and early teen.
Her most dated memory was when she was in kindergarten when Smartt allegedly made her perform oral sex on him as he drove down the road. She also testified he had her pose for pornographic pictures on more than one occasion.
The victim said he would often call her to his room where he would force her to perform oral sex on him when she was a child. He attempted intercourse with her when she turned 12, the girl tearfully recalled, noting she fought his attempts to take her virginity.
The girl said she did, in fact, at age 12, tell her mother about being molested but her mother did not believe her since she had no evidence. Lawmen reported the hard drive was missing from Smartt’s computer when they searched his home and the memory card was gone from his camera.
The mother supported her daughter’s testimony, telling the court she wanted proof before backing any prosecution of the alleged abuser. She said she never got that proof, other than her daughter’s word.
Along with her mother not believing her, the man who was allegedly molesting her told her no one else would believe her either.
“He said it was our secret,” the girl testified, noting he warned her that her claims would fall on deaf ears.
To validate his point, Smartt told the girl he had served on a jury where an accused child molester had been acquitted.
“They didn’t believe it against him so why would they believe me?” the girl said, saying fear of not being believed also delayed her coming forward.
According to court records, Smartt was on a jury in which an accused child molester was acquitted. This happened at the same time Smartt was allegedly molesting the girl.
The decade of alleged abuse reached a boiling point with a physical altercation between the victim and abuser. The was able to distance herself from the alleged molester and, three months later, at age 17, approached a school resource officer to report the longtime abuse.
“He still had a hold on me,” she said, explaining why she waited so long to report him.
While the defense had no direct evidence to refute the girl’s claims, Crain suggested the girl may have been looking for revenge against Smartt for the physical altercation they had just months before she made the allegations.
“Isn’t it true you’ve said that the more details you add to a lie, the more chance people will believe it?” Crain queried during cross examination.
The girl stuck to her guns, offering to give details of more perverse incidents involving her and Smartt when she was a young girl.
According to District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis, prosecutors are strongly considering putting Smartt on trial again for the crimes.