Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pa.: Trial begins for Allentown woman, 40, accused of molesting boy, 13

Rachel Warris

Warris, now 40, of the 600 block of Dixon Street in south Allentown is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a person under 16 years old, statutory sexual assault, corruption of minors and indecent assault.

If convicted, Warris could be sentenced to more than 10 years in a state prison.

On the witness stand Tuesday, Warris told the jury that the boy was the aggressor. She said she admitted telling police that she initiated sexual contact with the eighth-grader, but said her confession was coerced. "I just wanted to go home already," she said.

The sex assault is alleged to have occurred Feb. 11, 2015, at Warris' home. The boy told an investigator that Warris touched him inappropriately, took off his pants and sexually assaulted him, according to court records.

The boy's mother testified for more than an hour Tuesday morning. She said her son and Warris' son were close friends, and they usually got together at the Warris home after school to play video games or sports.

On the day of the alleged sex assault, the mother said she picked up her son from the Warris home and noticed a change in his demeanor. Her normally talkative child was quiet, and would not make eye contact with her, she told the jury.

Before the boy left for school the next morning, he gave his mother his prepaid cellphone, so that she could hook it up to the family computer and add minutes to it.

The mother said she was curious when she saw the heart message on her son's phone, but hesitated before clicking it, because she didn't want to invade his privacy. "But I wanted to see who the girl was," she said.

The family then drove to the Allentown Police Department, where the boy was interviewed by members of the Special Victims Unit.

Warris admitted in court Tuesday that she exposed her breast to the boy and her son, but said it was a joke. She also admitted writing sexually explicit messages to the boy, but insisted that she did not invite the sexual contact between them that she described.

During cross-examination, Deputy District Attorney Anna-Kristie Morffi Marks showed Warris the Facebook message thread, pointing out that Warris sent the boy an "I love you" cartoon the day after she said the boy tried to sexually assault her.

Warris' attorney, David Ritter, asked jurors to keep an open mind. He said child molester prosecutions are a "machine that must keep cranking on," and suggested that police do not always have proof when they charge someone.


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