Originally created 07/11/01

Jury set to make decision in child molestation case



A jury will take the responsibility of trying to find the truth today as testimony ends in a child molestation case.

Because the prosecutor had Jon M. Putnam's previous trial testimony read to the Richmond County Superior Court jury Tuesday, the 12 jurors heard Mr. Putnam, 53, deny he molested a 9-year-old girl in 1995. The jurors also heard from the child, now 15, who testified Mr. Putnam fondled her repeatedly, sometimes several times a day.

"I just know it happened a lot," she said.

It ended in July 1995 when she told her mother while the family attended a Christian conference in Atlanta, the girl testified.

The child's mother told the jury Tuesday she never called the police because she feared her daughter and a son would be taken from her. She denied any connection between her removal of $95,000 from bank accounts she shared with Mr. Putnam and her comment to an acquaintance in September 1995 concerning the girl's allegation.

The acquaintance reported the comment to the Department of Family and Children Services, over the mother's objections, the mother testified.

The DFCS social worker and sheriff's detective who investigated testified they did not know about the victim's sexual contact with her older brother until Mr. Putnam told them.

Asked at his first trial in 1996 why the victim would make child molestation claims against him if it wasn't true, Mr. Putnam responded that maybe the girl had told something about being sexually active at the Christain conference and when pressed, named him instead of her brother.

Mr. Putnam was convicted in 1996 on these same charges, aggravated child molestation and child molestation, but the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed the convictions, ruling he had been unfairly tried. A second trial in November 1998 ended in a mistrial at the judge's request. Mr. Putnam has been imprisoned since January 1996.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or shodson@augustachronicle.com.