Defendant in sexual abuse trial was father figure to victims

July 12, 2011 at 2:12 a.m.

The troubled home life of two abuse victims was discussed during the first-day testimony in the trial of Gerald Francis Graves Jr.

Graves, 43, of Victoria, is charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child younger than 14 between January 2002 and June 2004, as well as two counts of indecency with a child.

He was indicted on the charges in June 2010.

Karen Smithey, a case worker with Child Protective Services, testified the abuse victims, who are siblings, did not have an ideal home situation.

The children's biological mother had a long history with CPS including having her oldest child, the abuse victims' older sibling, removed from the home and placed with relatives, as well as investigations for neglect and failure of one of the abuse victim's failure to thrive, according to Smithey.

An investigation for sexual abuse took place in April 2005, after the children's mother began dating Graves.

"The biological mother put more emphasis on the men in her life than her children," said Luis Martinez, defense attorney for Graves, during the trial.

From the stand, Cynthia Ramirez, crisis intervention specialist at Mid-Coast Family Services, explained to jurors the relationship Graves had with the brother and sister abuse victims, even detailing how the children referred to Graves as "Dad."

At the time of the abuse, the children were both under the age of 5.

When Smithey, who had interviewed the boy, was asked by defense attorneys whether she believed the boy's allegations, she replied, "We had received so many referrals. At this point, what (he) said was credible."

Additionally, Smithey testified the children's mother tried to stop them from speaking out against Graves, who financially provided for her and the children.

"She was definitely coaching (the boy) trying to get him not to say anything," Smithey said.

The children's mother eventually lost custody of them for continuing to engage in a relationship with Graves, who was and still is on probation for a September 2000 conviction for felony indecency with a child.

Graves' period to register as a sex offender is scheduled to end on Sept. 6, 2016.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Judge Skipper Koetter's courtroom.



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