Reporter’s note: The names of the victims and family members testifying on their behalf are withheld to protect their identity.
LaGRANGE — The retrial of a man accused of molesting and raping two young girls began 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 a grand jury indictment against him, 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.
She told jurors they would see and hear videotaped testimony from both girls about the sexual abuse they endured and hear it from the victims when they take the stand later in the week.
“If only it were that simple,” stated Julianne Lynn, Martinez’ defense attorney, in her opening statement. “It’s important for you to think about that. Did it happen the way they said it happened? I do not think there will be any evidence … I ask that you keep an open mind. Could this have happened the way they say it happened? Is it believable?”
The state’s first witness was an aunt to both girls. She claimed she overheard them debating during a sleepover whether to tell an adult about the alleged abuse by Martinez.
The aunt testified that disclosure took place after she had a conversation with the girls and their cousins about the difference between “good touch” and “bad touch.” She said the cousins were teasing the 9 year old about having a boyfriend at the time.
“So that’s when you decided to have that conversation,” Lynn asked the aunt on cross examination.
“I was going to have it with the two oldest girls … but when they were teasing her (victim) I just went ahead and decided to talk about it,” the aunt explained.
“Were they (cousins) teasing her about someone touching her,” Lynn asked.
“No,” replied the aunt.
The family reported the alleged molestation and rapes to the LaGrange Police Department the next day, March 14, 2015.
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 on March 14.
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 the house.
“I was just too scared to tell her,” the victim stated.
The little girl also said the last time Martinez allegedly abused her was the day before the interview was recorded.
Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-84-7311, ext. 2156.