GREENFIELD — Steven Grogan spoke in a soft voice as he shared his side of the story.
No, the 37-year-old told the jury; he never sexually assaulted the teen girl accusing him of rape. The story she’d told investigators, the one that landed him in jail, is a fabrication, and he doesn’t know why she pointed a finger at him, he told jurors.
They didn’t believe him.
After nearly six hours of deliberation Thursday, a jury of 12 Hancock County residents found the Shirley man guilty of rape and battery at the conclusion of a three-day trial.
Grogan was convicted of all five assault-related charges he faced, including three Level 3 felony counts of rape, that were filed against him earlier this year. The abuse went on daily for nearly a year, investigators said.
Grogan’s is the first rape case to go before a Hancock County jury in nearly a decade, officials said.
Throughout the proceedings, prosecutors worked to prove Grogan repeatedly harmed a young girl who trusted him.
The state rested its case Thursday midday, having interviewed police, the victim and her therapist among others on the witness stand since the trial began Tuesday. They told jurors Grogan abused a position of trust to take advantage of a young woman.
Thursday afternoon, Grogan’s defense attorney began calling witnesses — including Grogan — and then turned the case over to the panel of Grogan’s peers.
The jury began deliberating just after 4:30 p.m. They reached their verdict just before 10 p.m.
Grogan took the witness stand in his own defense to tell the jury he never had a sexual relationship with his accuser, though he admits he on at least one occasion treated her poorly. He said during his testimony he struck the girl once, that he “popped her in the face” after she was rude to him.
He’s never had sex with her, though, Grogan said.
When asked about the girl’s behavior, he said she is often deceptive with those closest to her, and he believes she was a liar, he said.
“She was manipulating,” he said.
In their closing arguments, deputy prosecutor Cathy Wilson and Grogan’s defense attorney, Allen Lidy of Mooresville, took turns trying to convince jurors their chief witness — the victim and the defendant, respectively — was more credible than the other.
Each attorney highlighted their witness’s best qualities.
The victim graduated high school with honors, a 4.6 grade-point average and the title of 21st-Century Scholar, Wilson told the jury. She was well-behaved in school and heavily involved in activities, she said.
Grogan is a U.S. Navy veteran with five years of active-duty service, most of which was spent overseas, Lidy said. He worked full time at an area hospital before his arrest earlier this year.
Throughout the case, Wilson worked to prove a young woman had kept a terrible secret. Lidy tried to convince the jury Grogan’s accuser is untrustworthy. He followed that narrative during his closing argument, saying the teen had been “repeatedly deceptive” and pointed to times she disobeyed her parents as evidence.
A therapist testified early this week her client was uncomfortable talking about her relationship with Grogan, that it took time for her to gain the courage to say what happened.
While presenting evidence Thursday, Lidy showed the jury a taped interview between the victim and an Indiana Department of Child Services caseworker. The interview had taken place a few months before the girl made her disclosure but within the timeframe she says the abuse was ongoing.
Lidy told the judge he wanted the jury to see the girl’s demeanor and body language. She was chatty and lively, with no sign of the despair she said she felt during that time, Lidy said.
The girl crafted the rape allegations as a way to get back at Grogan for the times he had mistreated her, Lidy said.
“She’s leveled a scenario where we are left to defend the indefensible,” Lidy said.
But the girl gained nothing from lying, Wilson said during her final statements to the jury.
When the abuse occurred, the girl was a high-schooler who just wanted to live the life any other teenager had. She didn’t want to be talking to police officers, meeting with state investigators or coming to court to tell a graphic tale to strangers, Wilson said.
“These aren’t things a (teen) is going to tell you unless they happened,” Wilson said. “Do you think she wants to be looked at as a victim? No one wants that.”
“This is a girl who survived her worst nightmare,” Wilson continued. “And then she came to court and told you about it.”
Prosecutors said they might never have known about the abuse had the victim not eventually confided in a therapist.
The victim said Grogan abused her regularly over the course of a year whenever they were alone together at his Shirley home, according to court records.
The girl testified that she would lie motionless in her bed while the man sexually assaulted her, silent until the abuse was over, according to court documents.
For several hours Wednesday, the second day of the trial, she answered questions about her interactions with Grogan, detailing the abuse she suffered.
The girl told the jury she would lie still and close her eyes, just trying to get through it. Grogan would scold her then, telling her she needed to be passionate with him and “living in the moment,” she testified.
Grogan will return to Hancock Circuit Court for sentencing on Jan. 18.
Each of the Level 3 felony counts Grogan is convicted of carries a maximum penalty of 16 years in prison; the Class B misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of 180 days behind bars.
Grogan was also convicted of one Level 5 felony that carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison.