Reporter’s note: The names of the victims and family members testifying on their behalf are withheld to protect the identity of the victims.
LaGRANGE — The trial of a man accused of molesting and raping two young girls started Tuesday afternoon in a Troup County Superior courtroom.
Celestino “Hector” Acuño-Martinez, 41, of LaGrange, was charged with four counts of child molestation, two counts of rape, two counts of false imprisonment, two counts of aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy and enticing a child for indecent purposes.
According to the indictment, the alleged incidents took place in a home in LaGrange between August 2013 and March 2015. Martinez was arrested by the LaGrange Police Department on March 15, 2015.
“Sometimes the world is ugly … sometimes the world is depraved … and sometimes, evil does exist,” stated Troup County Assistant District Attorney Lynda Caldwell in her opening statement.
Caldwell told the jury, the girls were aged 9 and 11 years old. She also said one of the children is considered to have a learning disability.
The assistant district attorney held up pictures of the girls to the jury and stated the man, known to them as Hector, was a relative. At a family visit the girls told an aunt about the alleged sexual abuse by Martinez, said Caldwell.
Martinez’ defense attorney, Julianne Lynn, agreed Caldwell had a right to be upset over the allegations against her client. But she said the assistant district attorney was angry with the wrong person.
” … I believe my evidence is going to show clearly that the mom and aunt told these kids what to say,” Lynn emphatically told the jurors. ” … Listen to the videos … please, take notes while you watch them. The children say, ‘My mama said,’ almost every time … You also won’t see any DNA evidence, even the day after the allegations are made.”
The state’s first witness was an aunt to both girls who stated the night before the family called to report Martinez to the police, she picked up the 9-year-old niece for a sleepover with some cousins.
“When they first got in the car, they were teasing her (9-year-old victim) about having a boyfriend,” the aunt testified. “That’s when I started talking about the difference between a ‘good touch’ and a ‘bad touch.’”
The aunt told the jury later that night, she overheard the 9 year old and 11 year old talking about “telling someone about it.” She said it was then that girls told her Martinez had allegedly sexually abused them.
Kim Adams, director of the Children’s Advocacy Center in Troup County, testified she interviewed the girls about the reported abuse and what took place.
Caldwell then played a videotaped interview between Adams and the 9-year-old victim for the jury where Adams asked the girl how often the sexual abuse took place. The 9 year old said every time her mom left.
She also said the last time Martinez allegedly abused her was the day before the interview was recorded.
Adams will take the stand again as day two of the trial against Celestino Acuño-Martinez continues Wednesday morning.
Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.