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State trooper, DNA expert testify at Old Lyme sexual assault trial

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Christopher Dionne admitted to a state trooper that he rubbed the back of his daughter's best friend during a sleepover at his Old Lyme home on Nov. 26, 2017, according to testimony Tuesday in New London Superior Court.

Dionne told Trooper Kazimera Morse the 10-year-old girl had touched him first, inappropriately he said, by putting her arm around his stomach. He said he noticed the child was awake on a living room couch and sat down with her after he returned to 4 Village Lane from a local tavern at 1 a.m.

Dionne told Morse the girl started crying and rolled over onto her stomach after he moved her hand away two times. He said he rubbed her back, then went to bed with his wife.

The 37-year-old married father of two, who had been pursuing a career in television, is accused of touching the child's buttocks and breasts beneath her cheetah print pajamas, and asking if she wanted to perform a sexual act. He has pleaded not guilty to risk of injury to a minor, turned down the state's offer to resolve the case by pleading guilty to a lesser charge and opted for a trial by jury.

Morse and Jillian Echard, a DNA examiner from the state Forensic Science Laboratory, testified on the second day of Dionne's trial.

Echard testified that Dionne's DNA was "likely present" in swabbings taken from the back and front waistband of the cheetah print pajama shorts the girl was wearing that night. He was eliminated as a contributor to DNA found on her pajama top and a pair of pink underwear that was in the overnight bag the child's mother turned over to the resident trooper.

The only people who have matching DNA profiles are identical twins and, coincidentally, both the DNA examiner, Echard, and the defendant have identical twins. Dionne's twin brother, Michael, lives in California, according to public records.

The alleged victim and her mother had testified on Monday, and prosecutor Theresa Anne Ferryman said the state would be resting its case Wednesday after calling on staff from the Yale New Haven Children's Hospital who conducted a forensic interview of the child after she disclosed Dionne had sexually assaulted her.

Defense attorney Michael Dwyer said he expects to call at least two witnesses to the stand, though it's unclear whether Dionne is one of them.

The girl had testified that Dionne molested her while his daughter slept on another couch nearby. During another sleepover, the girl said she had awakened to find Dionne lying next to her on the couch, his finger in her mouth.

The girl's mother also testified, admitting that she had exchanged sexually inappropriate texts with Dionne but indicating they had never had a physical relationship.

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