LEWISBURG — Testimony at the trial of a man accused of rape of a child was halted Monday after an apparent misstep.
Neither the prosecution nor the defense for Charles J. Westfall II, 48, of Mifflinburg, had received documents illustrating the injuries sustained by the alleged victim.
Union County President Judge Michael T. Hudock then waited for the documents to be copied and distributed. The witness at the time, Rachel Gordner, RN, was recounting the injuries allegedly sustained by the victim.
Westfall’s attorney, Michael O’Donnell, told the judge he considered asking for a mistrial as the pages were numerous and integral to the case.
Hudock replied that the attorney’s tactic was similar to one used on Law and Order, the television show. Hudock then recessed the proceedings so that both sides may catch up. There could also be time for O’Donnell to cite precedent for a mistrial.
Westfall was accused of two felony counts apiece of rape of child, aggravated indecent assault of a person less than age 13, indecent assault of a person less than age 13 and statutory sexual assault by a person 11 years older. Misdemeanor charges included recklessly endangering another person and terroristic threats.
Felony counts of indecent deviant sexual intercourse with a child and aggravated assault were dismissed in a lower court.
Allegations arose in November 2018 as the result of a ChidLine referral in which Dreama Mentz, then age 10, of Mifflinburg, told peers at school that she and her stepfather “only do things that married people do.” Her classmates reported what was said to a teacher, who referred it to guidance which referred it to the Union County Children and Youth Department.
Papers filed wth District Judge Jeffrey L. Mensch indicated Mentz was examined by a sexual assault nurse examiner Nov. 10, 2018 at Evangelical Community Hospital and was interviewed at the Child Advocacy Center of Sunbury on Nov. 15, 2018. The criminal complaint against Westfall was filed Dec. 10.
Testimony on Monday included accounts by the alleged victim.
Prosecutor Phillip Sassaman, assistant district attorney, asked Mentz why she began asking schoolmates to pray for her one day over a year ago.
“What was going on” was the reason behind the request, she testified. Mentz then described how Westfall allegedly assaulted her, which included a description of his genitals and where they were inserted.
A video of an interview with Mentz at the Child Advocacy Center was also played for the jury. In it she recounted how Westfall wanted to play, but it was not in a way she thought of as play. Mentz also indicated there were several encounters, each unfolding much the same way.
On cross examination, the Child Advocacy Center examiner was asked if it was possible that a perpetrator could be misidentified. On redirect, the prosecution affirmed that the victim identified the defendant.
Additional witnesses, some of whom were to be called Monday, were expected today.