NEW HAVEN — The mother of a young girl in a sexual assault case recalled Wednesday how her daughter finally revealed the alleged contact she had been having for years with defendant Robert Pentland III .
The mother quoted her daughter saying, “Sometimes Robbie feels my bottom and says he’s going to spank me.”
The girl was 9 when she said this to her mother. She too was on the witness stand Wednesday.
Pentland, of Madison, faces charges of third-degree sexual assault, risk of injury to a child and second-degree unlawful restraint regarding the girl, and second-degree threatening and first-degree reckless endangerment concerning her mother.
The mother testified her daughter, now 17, told her about the alleged contact in February 2004, after playing with Pentland for six years.
“I asked her, ‘Did anybody ever touch you that made you feel uncomfortable?’” the mom recalled.
The mother said she had begun to have misgivings about Pentland because at about that time, her daughter told her, “I don’t want to go over there anymore” and had “a strange look on her face.”
In addition, the mother said that in late 2003, during a Christmas visit to the Pentland house, she found the defendant and her daughter on a sofa in the basement, watching TV with a blanket over both their bodies .“His hips were touching her hips,” she said.
The mother testified Pentland was “always very drawn to” her daughter and her son.
Pentland, now 40, is 23 years older than the girl. Her mother testified, “He never talked to adults. He would always stay with children.”
“He didn’t have friends his own age,” she added. “He never had a girlfriend.”
The mother said it was very difficult to accept her daughter’s account of what had happened with Pentland because the two families were close.
“I really trusted them, like they were family,” she said. “I loved them.”
But after her daughter resolved to tell police what the defendant allegedly had done to her and he was arrested in November 2008, the mother said the Pentlands began harassing the family.
The family finally moved. She said, “We had to get out of there.”
The mother said she and her husband didn’t report the alleged sexual abuse to police because they wanted to spare their daughter going through the legal process.
But on Oct. 25, 2008, the mother testified, her daughter became extremely upset when she saw Pentland with a little girl, seemingly mistreating her.
“She asked me, ‘Why can he have her over there when he did that to me?’” the mother recalled.
The mother said they could hear that little girl crying, and Pentland telling her, “Louder! Louder!”
The mom said her daughter decided she had to tell police what Pentland had done to her, in order to protect the other child.
The mother also testified that on Feb. 16, 2010, while she was standing in a neighbor’s driveway, Pentland drove his car toward her, coming within about 6-12 inches of her leg. “He was laughing.”
During cross-examination of the girl Wednesday by defense attorney Thomas Ullmann, she tried to explain why her account to a Madison detective of Pentland’s alleged contact was much less detailed than her testimony.
“I wasn’t very comfortable with the situation,” she said of the police interview. “I was self-conscious about it.”
She also said Detective Trent Fox didn’t ask her to go into great detail.
The girl testified Pentland never touched her genital area nor her breasts, and never tried to have her touch him anywhere.
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