Originally created 11/12/03

Jury sees videotape of alleged sex abuse



AIKEN - A North Augusta man used a videotape of sex acts with an underage girl as a means of preventing the victim from reporting years of sexual abuse to authorities, prosecutors alleged Tuesday.

Afraid its revelation would destroy her marriage, the woman didn't come forward about the alleged molestations until more than a decade after they began, she testified.

Harold Gregory, 58, is on trial in Aiken County General Sessions Court on charges of criminal sexual conduct with a minor and sexual exploitation of a minor.

On Tuesday, Aiken County jurors viewed a copy of the tape, which the alleged victim purported to show her and Mr. Gregory engaged in sexual conduct when she was younger than 17. The woman, now 30, testified that Mr. Gregory began molesting her when she was 10 and continued to exert control over her into adulthood, even after she was married.

Mr. Gregory's attorney, Greg Harlow, countered that the acts between his client and the woman were consensual and took place after she reached the age of consent - 18 in South Carolina. He suggested the accuser is painting herself as a victim to cover up an adulterous affair with the man.

Under cross-examination, the woman admitted that one of two segments shown to jurors occurred after she was 18. But she insisted another segment was taped prior to 1989, when she was 14 or 15, because furniture pictured in the video was different.

In both instances, she said she was coerced into sexual conduct.

She testified that she had no knowledge of the acts being videotaped until Mr. Gregory presented her with a copy two years ago.

"He explained to me he had something that if (my husband) or my mother saw it, it would make them very angry," she said. "I didn't know what to do. I felt like a little kid; I didn't know how to react."

Sometime afterward, Mr. Gregory fell ill and was hospitalized. Fearing he was dying of a heart attack, he told the woman the combination to his safe where the tape was stored, she testified.

Later, Mr. Gregory's wife took the witness stand and defended him, saying the acts had taken place after the woman was an adult.

Reach Stephen Gurr at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110.



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