LIMA — The oldest of three juvenile girls who prosecutors say were raped and sexually abused in a variety of ways by Matthew Smith took the witness stand Tuesday and calmly described the horror the Lima man put her through beginning when she was 10 years old.
Smith’s trial got underway in Allen County Common Pleas Court without a jury after he elected to have a bench trial instead. Judge Jeffrey Reed will serve as the sole trier of facts in the trial.
Smith, 35, was indicted by an Allen County grand jury in November on 83 counts related to the rape and sexual abuse of the young girls over a span of nearly two years. Prior to the start of testimony on Tuesday, however, Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Destiny Caldwell said the state had dismissed 57 of the counts contained in the indictment, leaving Smith to stand trail on 26 remaining charges that include 17 counts of rape, 25 counts of sexual battery and four counts of gross sexual imposition.
The oldest of the alleged victims, now 15, related unwanted sexual advances that took place at locations ranging from Cody Lake Campground, a homeless shelter in Lima and a residence in Cridersville to homes on Hazel Avenue, Holmes Avenue and Greenlawn Avenue in Lima.
The girl described repeated instances at each location where she said Smith forced her to perform oral sex on him, penetrated her vagina digitally and through sexual intercourse and performed oral sex on her multiple times.
“It hurt me,” she said of being forced to have intercourse with Smith.
The girl said she allowed the abuse to take place “because he said he would kill my dad if I didn’t.” She said Smith produced a gun to convince her he was serious.
The girl’s younger sister told forensic investigators at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus of similar forced sexual encounters at the hands of Smith that started when she was 8 years old.
With Celeste Prince, a forensic interviewer with the Ohio Network of Child Advocacy Center, on the witness stand, prosecutors played a video of an interview the case worker did with the young girl in September of 2020. In the recording she said Smith “stuck his thing up my butt” and touched her “bad spot.” Shown anatomically correct drawings by Prince, the girl identified Smith’s “thing” as his penis and her own vagina as her “bad spot.”
She said it “hurt felt really bad” when she was anally raped “but he (Smith) told me I’d get in trouble if I didn’t do it.”
An even younger sister said she was “8 or 9” when Smith began to molest her. In an interview conducted at Nationwide Hospital the girl said her attacker made her rub his penis, put his finger on her vagina and attempted, unsuccessfully, to have anal sex with her on two occasions.
“He said if I ever told someone I would be in trouble,” she said during the taped interview.
Court documents reveal the Lima Police Department was first made aware by officials from the Logan County Children’s Service of sexual abuse that allegedly was taking place at a residence in the 800 block of Greenlawn Avenue in Lima.
Testimony in Smith’s trial will resume Wednesday morning.