Girl, 15, tells jury of alleged molestation
by ex-youth minister
By Brian J. Pederson
Arizona Daily Star
August 13, 2009
A former youth minister molested a 13-year-old girl from his church group numerous times for almost a year, threatening that if she ever told anyone, he would kill himself, his accuser testified Wednesday.
The girl, now 15, told a Pima County Superior Court jury of five men and eight women that Christopher Scott Decaire molested her and forced her to perform oral sex between January 2007 and January 2008.
"I was afraid to say no," said the girl, whom the Arizona Daily Star is not identifying.
Decaire, 59, has been charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a minor under 15 and one count of molestation. If convicted on all counts, he faces between 60 and 144 years in prison.
During opening statements, Deputy Pima County Attorney Michelle Araneta said Decaire took advantage of the absence of the girl's father from her life, first by giving her and other members of the East Tucson Baptist Church's youth group rides home.
Decaire then began to ask the girl inappropriate questions, and he often found ways to get her alone either before, during or after weekly youth group meetings, Araneta said.
"He took advantage of her age, he took advantage of her vulnerability, . . . and he took advantage of her trust," Araneta said.
Dressed in a pink-and-red flower-print dress and white jacket, her blond hair in a ponytail, the petite girl spent several hours on the stand describing how during her first six months in the youth group she grew increasingly comfortable with Decaire, looking to him as a father figure.
Then in January 2007, she said, she and Decaire were hugging when he lifted up her shirt, causing her to "freak out."
"I backed up and got really nervous," she said.
Two months later, after she and her older sister spent the night at Decaire's house while their mother was on a women's church retreat, the girl said Decaire touched her under her shirt and bra. "He asked me why I wore underwear to bed," the girl testified.
By April 2007, Decaire was exposing himself and molesting her, she said, and in October 2007 he started taking her into his office to have her perform oral sex on him.
"Something happened pretty much every Wednesday," the girl said, referring to the night that the youth group met. "He always told me that if anyone found out, he'd probably kill himself, and he could go to jail for the rest of his life. I believed him."
The girl said the last time Decaire molested her was on Jan. 2, 2008. Araneta told jurors that DNA evidence found on a black sweater the girl was wearing at the time was from Decaire.
The girl's time on the stand included the playing of a 40-minute phone conversation between her and Decaire — what police refer to as a "confrontation call" in an attempt to get a suspect to admit things.
Decaire refused to directly answer most of the girl's questions, which were being provided to her by police, though when she told Decaire she thought her sister knew, he said "Oh God" repeatedly and later said: "You can't tell anybody. You can't say anything. Do you realize what that could do?"
Defense attorney Richard Bock said the girl's accusations were "baseless" and the product of someone with a vivid imagination who was trying to gain the attention of what he said was her neglectful mother, a single parent.
During cross-examination, Bock asked the girl questions about a short story she had written for a class assignment, a story involving a girl who thought she was seeing things only to later realize she wasn't.
"You have to have a good imagination to come up with a story like that, huh?" Bock said.
Bock got the girl to admit that, after the confrontation call was completed, she sent Decaire a text message telling him not to go to the meeting place they'd discussed.
Bock asked the girl if she sent the text because she realized the story she made up had gone too far, but she said she texted him "because I still cared about him. I didn't make anything up."
The girl answered several other questions the same way, stating, "I didn't make anything up." At one point, she needed more than a minute to regain her composure after breaking down into tears.
Decaire's trial is expected to run through late next week. Pima County Superior Court Judge Jane Eikleberry is presiding.
Contact reporter Brian J. Pedersen at 573-4224 or email@example.com
Teenager claims youth minister molested her, KVOA News 4, 8/12/09
Southern Baptist youth minister indicted on molestation charges, EthicsDaily, 1/29/08
Youth minister indicted for sex crimes, KOLD News 13, 1/25/08 (with video)
Church deals with sex arrest, Tucson Citizen, 1/19/08
Tucson youth pastor accused of sex crimes, KOLD News 13, 1/15/2008
SNAP Note: East Tucson Baptist Church is as an SBC-affiliated church.