GREENFIELD — Through sniffles and deep breaths to calm herself, a Hancock County teen told a jury Tuesday that a man she trusted and helped care for her took advantage of times they were alone together to assault her.
Cases like these often have little physical evidence and no witnesses, but when a victim tells their story under oath in a courtroom, it should be treated as truth, prosecutors told the jury before calling the girl to the stand.
The first day of Brian Layton’s trial began Tuesday in Hancock County Circuit Court, where the Greenfield man faces charges of child molestation and sexual misconduct with a minor.
Layton, 54, was arrested in January 2015 after a girl came forward in November 2014 to tell police Layton touched her inappropriately on several occasions when she stayed at his Greenfield home, according to court documents.
At times, Layton grabbed her so tightly, it left red marks on her skin, court documents state.
Layton denies having hurt the girl and is expec- ted to testify Wednesday, court records state.
Testimony on Tuesday established a timeline of the alleged assaults and helped the jury understand Layton’s relationship with the victim and her family.
Prosecutors say Layton violated the girl’s trust and left her too afraid to report the abuse for years, while Layton’s defense attorney tried to cast the victim as an attention-seeking teen.
Prosecutors’ questions during jury selection suggest there will be very little physical evidence presented during the trial. There are no pictures or witnesses to the crime, said Deputy Prosecutor Georgeanna Teipen, who is presenting the state’s case; jurors will have to base their decision off the testimonies of a girl, a few family members and the man she says harmed her.
Layton’s defense attorney, Randall Shouse of Indianapolis, asked jurors to judge the victim’s credibility during his opening statement. He questioned her version of events and pointed to her willingness to return to her alleged abuser’s home as evidence she might be lying.
The abuse happened between 2009 and 2014, the girl testified Tuesday.
She said Layton sometimes assaulted her when another child was in the same room, but no one saw what happened.
On three instances, Layton fondled her, she said. On one occasion, she said she awoke to the man forcing her to touch him inappropriately.
Shouse questioned the girl about her decision to come forward, asking why she waited several years to report the abuse.
The victim said she’d watched an episode of Dr. Phil — one of her favorite programs — focusing on domestic violence and the importance of reporting such crimes. She decided to confide in a friend, who encouraged her to tell her mother and go to the police, she said.
Shouse asked the victim if she’d ever made comments to her family about wanting to be on a program like Dr. Phil. The girl said she couldn’t remember.
Layton faces one Class C felony count and one Level 5 felony count of sexual misconduct with a minor, along with one Class C count of child molest.
Class C felonies carry a penalty of up to eight years and $10,000 in fines. Level 5 felonies carry a penalty of up to six years and $10,000 in fines.
Testimony is scheduled to continue Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in Hancock County Circuit Court. Proceedings are open to the public.