Rape trial continues

GREENFIELD — She never wanted to tell.

On the second day of the state’s trial against 37-year-old Steven Grogan, jurors heard testimony from the teen girl who accused the Shirley man of repeatedly raping her. It was a story she didn’t plan to share with anyone — and didn’t during months of meetings with state investigators and therapists, she told the jury.

“Saying the words would mean admitting it happened, and I didn’t even want to admit it to myself,” said the victim, who eventually told a counselor she’d been assaulted.

Grogan faces five assault-related allegations, including three Level 3 felony counts of rape, records show. His is the first rape case to go before a Hancock County jury in nearly a decade, officials said.

After about five hours of testimony Tuesday, the first day of the proceedings, prosecutors returned to court Wednesday morning to continue working to convince the 12-member jury Grogan repeatedly harmed a young girl who trusted him.

Grogan’s defense attorney, Allen Lidy of Mooresville, worked to poke holes in the state’s story and paint the girl as untrustworthy.

The alleged victim took the stand for hours Wednesday to detail — sometimes graphically — the abuse she says she suffered.

She told the jury that her life wasn’t always easy. The Indiana Department of Child Services was often called to her home to investigate allegations of domestic violence and physical abuse, which eventually led to her being removed from her home prior to her coming forward with the allegations against Grogan.

The inappropriate relationship with Grogan started a few years ago when she was in high school, the girl testified. During a holiday break from school, Grogan forced her to engage in a sex act, she said.

She felt shocked and betrayed, scared and humiliated, she told the jury. Grogan was someone she trusted, and yet, he’d violated that trust, she said.

“I really couldn’t believe it was happening,” she said. “My life was already so bad, and I knew it would just become a hell-hole if I didn’t give him what he wanted.”

From there, the abuse happened almost daily for the next year, the girl said. When she tried to resist Grogan’s advances, he got angry and sometimes violent, she said.

Often she’d lie still while Grogan assaulted her, she said, and he would scold her for not being passionate, for not “living in the moment,” the girl told the jury.

Deputy prosecutor Cathy Wilson asked the girl why she never told anyone about the abuse, especially when caseworkers from the Indiana Department of Child Services were already involved in her life, ready to be confided in.

The girl said she didn’t want to be judged. She’d decided after that first encounter with Grogan to keep the abuse to herself, she said.

Testimony on Tuesday revealed the girl reported the abuse in early 2017 after a therapist DCS had ordered for her to see asked if she had an inappropriate relationship with Grogan.

As the girl spoke Wednesday, Grogan listened, occasionally jotting down notes on a pad in front of him.

He denies the girl’s allegations, and throughout the day Wednesday, his attorney told the jury not to believe the girl’s story.

Lidy’s questions to witnesses throughout the day often suggested the girl had behavioral issues.

Relatives admitted the girl had been caught with a teen boyfriend on several occasions after being explicitly told she couldn’t date. She’d get in trouble for those misbehaviors. Typically, she was grounded and had her cellphone or other privileges taken away, according to testimony.

A DCS worker assigned to the victim’s case said she never witnessed any misbehavior, she said.

Police officers who helped investigate the case took the witness stand later in the afternoon to discuss a series of texts and social media messages Grogan exchanged with the girl during their alleged relationship.

In several of notes Grogan referred to the girl as “babe” or “baby,” according to testimony; but nothing else inappropriate was found on either the victim’s or Grogan’s cellphones.

Grogan is being held in the Hancock County Jail without bond, records show.

Each of the Level 3 felony counts of rape Grogan faces carries a maximum penalty of 16 years in prison; the Class B misdemeanor of battery Grogan faces carried a maximum penalty of 180 days behind bars.

Grogan also faces one Level 5 felony that carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 8:30 a.m today in Hancock Circuit Court. Proceedings are open to the public.

Author photo
Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.