AIKEN - A North Augusta man molested a boy in his home numerous times over a yearlong period, a prosecutor told Aiken County jurors Tuesday, while lawyers defending the man said the 10-year-old accuser has told several different stories and used the allegations as a way of "getting back" at his relatives.
The boy was the first witness Tuesday in the trial of 37-year-old Warner Salazar, who faces up to 30 years in prison on three counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor. In a soft, emotionless voice, the child calmly answered questions from 2nd Circuit Assistant Solicitor Brenda Brisbin.
"Edith and Warner sexually assaulted me," the boy said, referring to the defendant and his wife, Edith Salazar, who also faces charges.
When asked later by defense attorney Ben Jackson where he learned the term "sexually assaulted," the boy said he heard the prosecutor say it when they were meeting about the case.
The boy explicitly described the alleged abuse, but also incriminated two other people who have not been charged in the case; one a former roommate of Mrs. Salazar, another a friend of Mr. Salazar, identified only as "Ramon."
Mr. Jackson confronted the accuser about prior statements he made to an investigator which were contradicted by his testimony, including reports of the room where the abuse took place, the frequency of the abuse and the time of day of the abuse.
The defense also said the boy had seen a child psychiatrist for several years but never mentioned abuse. The accusations were made in June 2002, after the boy went to stay with family friends in Alabama.
Mr. Jackson said the accuser, who was 8 at the time, was upset with Mr. Salazar because he had been placed on restriction and spanked shortly before he left for Alabama.
"The truth is, none of this happened, did it?" Mr. Jackson asked the accuser.
"It happened," he replied.
Later, pediatrician Dr. Penny White testified that she found a scar on the boy's body during a sexual assault examination that she found "suspicious" and a possible indication of sex abuse.
She acknowledged under cross-examination that the scar could have been months or years old, which would have predated the time when the boy lived with Mr. Salazar.