A 14-year-old girl testified in Richmond County Superior Court that Walter W. Underwood Jr. often baby-sat her and her younger siblings when their parents worked late.
When she was about 8, he started touching her in places that made her uncomfortable, she testified.
It got progressively worse, she said, and just before her ninth birthday, she said, he tried to rape her.
She was too scared to tell anyone what had happened, the teen testified, because she hadn’t understood what he was doing and didn’t know what to say.
It was a secret she kept until last year at a slumber party for the girls in her church, she testified. After another girl talked about having been molested, she whispered to her cousin that the same thing had happened to her.
Assistant District Attorney Melissa Marks told the jury in her opening statement that the jury will hear from another young woman who Underwood is also accused of molesting when she was a child.
Underwood has pleaded not guilty to two counts of child molestation.
He denies all the allegations, which have left him devastated, defense attorney Clayton Jolly told the jury in his opening statement.
He described Underwood as loving man adored by his grandchildren. He taught Sunday school for years, coached a girls softball team and took children to camp, Jolly said.
After Underwood retired, he earned a degree in biblical theology and was ordained in 2008. A number of character witnesses will be called for Underwood, Jolly said.
Testimony continues Tuesday.