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The last thing two sixth-grade girls wanted to talk about in a courtroom full of adult strangers today was the night a man came into their beds during a 2011 sleepover and touched their private parts.
Dressed in purple pants, sneakers and bright-colored hooded sweatshirts, the girls came to New London Superior Court with their parents to testify on the first day of the sexual assault trial of 41-year-old Harold L. “Monty” Waites.
Waites, of New London, is charged with two counts of first-degree sexual assault, two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor.
Both girls spoke so softly it was difficult to hear them from the audience. They balked when asked to detail what Waites had done to them on March 26, 2011.
“There’s no need to be embarrassed,” prosecutor Lawrence J. Tytla told them repeatedly as he gently elicited their testimony.
They squirmed in their seats and covered their faces with their hands. One of them cried. But their stories eventually emerged for the jury of seven women and one man.
The best friends, who were 9 and 10 years old, were having a sleepover at one of their homes on a Friday night. The host girl’s father spent the night drinking with Waites. In an upstairs bedroom, the girls slept on a trundle bed and watched TV until they fell asleep.
Sometime around 4 a.m., Waites came into the bedroom and laid down next to one girl.
“He told me he was my uncle,” the girl testified. He kissed her and reached into her pants and touched her beneath her underwear. He told her he would take her to Chuck E Cheese, she testified.
Waites did the same thing to the other girl, telling her to look away when he moved into the other’s bed. He left the room at one point and returned, saying he was looking for something.
“He said if we didn’t say anything, he’d take me to Friendly’s,” the girl testified.
Once Waites left, the visiting girl had to use the bathroom but was afraid to go downstairs, the girls testified. Both girls went into the brother’s room and told him that Monty had “hurt us,” one girl testified. The brother said they had to tell their mother.
Both testified that when they ran into Waites downstairs, he put his index finger to his lips and made a shushing noise. They went to the mother’s bedroom, shook her awake and told her what had happened.
The mother testified that she called 911 and called the mother of the girl who was sleeping over. She said she saw Waites in the doorway with a bottle of vodka in his hand and the only thing she could think to say to him was, “What the (expletive)?”
She said on the following Monday, when he was presented in court for arraignment, Waites turned to her in the audience and mouthed the words, “I’m sorry.”
New London police officer Deana Nott testified that Waites was sitting in his car, smelling of alcohol, when she went to the home for a reported sexual assault of two minors. She said she spoke to the girls separately, in the presence of their mothers, being careful not to “put words in their mouths.”
In taking his case to trial, Waites, who is represented by Attorney W. Theodore Koch III, rejected an offer to plead guilty in exchange for an eight-year prison sentence. If convicted, he faces decades in prison.
The trial, taking place before Judge Arthur C. Hadden, resumes Tuesday and is expected to last about a week.