St. John Trial Wraps Up Day One

CLEARFIELD – The defense in the Frederick St. John rape trial spent the afternoon attempting to poke holes in the testimony of the alleged victim in the case.

She had testified early in the day that there were ongoing incidents of sexual assault that happened between her and St. John beginning in October 2002 and ending in December.

Chris Pentz, defense attorney for the Morrisdale man, presented the victim with a testimony transcript from the preliminary hearing. Pentz alleged that she changed her testimony from that hearing to Wednesday’s trial. Clearfield County Defense Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. said the statements pointed out by Pentz were taken out of context.

The victim apologized for not being able to remember what was said or what happened. “If I can’t remember certain instances, please forgive me, but I can’t,” she said. 

The jury also saw a spreadsheet the victim made, detailing dates and incidents she said happened. When Pentz asked where the girl obtained the dates, she replied that she drew lines on the corners of pages in her school assignment book, and she said she used other documents in making the spreadsheet.

Pentz asked where these documents were and if Shaw and the state police were ever aware of them.

Shaw said that he learned of the notebook on either the day before or the day of the trial.

With that, the jury was removed from the courtroom, and Pentz made several motions, one of which was for a mistrial.

“This evidence existed, and I think the commonwealth had a duty,” Pentz said.

Clearfield County Judge Paul E. Cherry, who is presiding over the three-day trial, denied the motion for mistrial. A previous scheduled trial for St. John ended in a mistrial because one of the jurors knew the alleged victim.

Pentz also moved to call Shaw as a witness since he said he knew of the notebook. Cherry also denied that motion, as well as motions to dismiss the charges and call the trooper in the case as a witness.

Before recessing for the day, the victim said the trooper who investigated the claim never said she had to keep her appointment book, the trooper had only said to use whatever she needed to in order to document when the alleged encounters happened.

Pentz also introduced the victim’s page in which she wrote about her family and events in her life, which ended nearly three hours of testimony from the alleged victim.

The trial then recessed until Thursday morning, when she will likely resume her testimony.

Counsel for the commonwealth and the defense are scheduled to meet with the judge before the second day of the trial to discuss issues brought up at an end-of-the-day sidebar.

St. John faces 194 counts each of rape and related counts, along with 32 counts each of aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault and a corruption of minors charge.

St. John is being held in Clearfield County Jail in lieu of bail.

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