LIMA — Jurors in the rape trial of 22-year-old Avery Ward heard directly from the Lima man’s alleged victim during the trial’s opening day on Monday.
Ward is on trial for allegedly raping a 9-year-old boy on the evening of Dec. 5 of last year in a Brower Road apartment. A 45-minute videotaped deposition of the young boy’s testimony was played for jurors in Allen County Common Pleas Court Monday afternoon.
Judge Terri Kohlrieser in May ruled that the young boy would not have to testify in front of Ward because he is entitled to certain legal protections under the law due to his age. Kohlrieser said at that time there was “sufficient reason to believe the child could suffer serious emotional trauma” if required to testify in a courtroom setting.
Court records show that on the evening of Dec. 5 of last year police received a call from a female in reference to her son being sexually assaulted by a 21-year-old male at a Brower Road apartment. According to court documents the boy told his mother he was sexually assaulted the prior evening in an upstairs bedroom of the apartment. He said Ward pushed him face down onto a bed and forcibly had anal sex with him.
During his taped deposition, the boy told essentially the same story. He said that on the evening of Dec. 5, 2018, he and his 5-year-old sister went into their brother’s bedroom to play when Ward also entered the room.
Asked during the deposition by Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Randall Basinger what happened next, the boy recounted the events by saying: “He (Ward) picked me up and laid me down on the bed, face down. He held me down. He pulled down my pants and underwear to my ankles and he took his pants off.”
The boy said Ward then forcibly had anal intercourse with him “for two or three minutes” while his young sister watched from the closet.
Afterward, “he said if you tell anyone I will hurt you and your sister,” the youngster testified.
The boy’s mother also testified in court Monday, telling jurors that her son waited until the next day before telling what had happened to him. She also told jurors that it was during a trip to the emergency room of a local hospital that it was learned Ward is infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS.
Asked why she believed her son waited a day to tell her of the alleged rape, the woman replied, “He was afraid. Avery told him he would kill the kids if they snitched.”
Former Lima Police Department patrolman Ashley Knippen testified that she spoke with the young boy briefly on the day after the alleged incident and heard a similar story from the alleged victim.
“He told me Avery threatened to beat the hell out of him if he told anyone,” Knippen told jurors.
Ward was indicted in January by on charges of rape, a first-degree felony, and felonious assault, a felony of the second degree. The felonious assault charge stems from the fact that Ward engaged in sexual intercourse even though he knowingly carried the AIDS virus.