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Pastor’s trial on molesting charge opens

Burton

– Dwarfed by the courtroom, a 10-year-old girl answered questions Tuesday in the first day of the Rev. James Burton’s trial on child molesting charges.

Burton, 51, of the 5900 block of Tanager Boulevard, was pastor of Greater Faith Baptist Church on East Wayne Street at the time of his arrest in late 2012. The girl was a foster child, and in Burton’s care at the time he allegedly touched her, between June 2009 and January 2012, according to testimony and court documents.

Burton is charged with two Class A felony charges of child molesting, as well as two Class C felony charges of child molesting.

The girl testified she called Burton “Dad” and lived with him and his wife. She said she liked living there but that he repeatedly touched her on her “privates” and told her to take her clothes off.

She testified she is now living in another city with her parents and most of her siblings.

She eventually disclosed the allegations to staff at her elementary school, court documents said. Burton was charged in December 2012. The girl was removed from the Burtons’ home that same year.

The girl was on the witness stand for more than an hour, testifying that at some point while she stayed at Burton’s home as a foster child, he touched her inappropriately and performed oral sex on her.

While Burton’s defense attorney, Don James, plodded through his cross-examination of the girl, she periodically rolled something around in her hands, her eyes looking straight ahead as she awaited his questions.

At times, she answered the questions with “I don’t remember,” while James tried to refresh her memory using a transcript of a deposition she gave nearly a year ago.

But James’ use of the deposition in that way repeatedly drew objections from Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Stacy Kollins, and corrections from Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull.

James eventually asked the girl whether she could recall anything about Burton’s “privates,” but the girl said she never saw them.

The girl was the only witness Tuesday. The trial is scheduled to continue through Thursday.

rgreen@jg.net

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