Testimony begins in rape trial of Lima man

LIMA — Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca King-Newman told jurors in the trial of a Lima man charged with sexually molesting a minor that on Feb. 1 of this year “a deep, dark secret got revealed … only because a 14-year-old boy was brave enough to tell the truth.”

Testimony got underway Tuesday afternoon in Allen County Common Pleas Court in the trial of Matthew Brown, who faces charges that include nine counts of rape, seven counts of sexual battery, two counts of gross sexual imposition and one count of attempted rape. The charges stem from alleged sexual conduct with the juvenile that occurred between May of 2019 and Nov. 21, 2020. Several sexual assaults took place when the boy was less than 13 years of age, prosecutors said.

Following a morning of jury selection, the bulk of Tuesday’s testimony came from the mother of the alleged victim. The woman said she was alerted by a family friend — herself a former sexual assault victim — about changes in the boy’s behavior that were consistent with sexual abuse.

The friend, who took the stand as the trial’s first witness, said the youngster had become increasingly isolated and that “his anger was uncontrollable and his grades had started to slip.”

The boy’s mother said that on Feb. 1 of this year she questioned her son and asked if he had been touched inappropriately by Brown. The boy initially denied any such interaction, but later that night in a text message to his mother admitted he had lied.

The woman fought back tears as she described her son as a “big-time soccer player” and a “happy boy” before the alleged abuse took place.

In her opening statements to jurors, King-Newman alleged Brown touched the boy’s penis and both performed oral sex on him and received oral sex from the youngster.

“The defendant was sexually abusing him and had threatened him by saying, ‘You’d better not tell anybody,’” King-Newman said. “But he had the courage to tell his mom that something had happened to him. Then he told law enforcement and Children Services (investigators) the same thing.”

Defense attorney Carroll Creighton deferred his opening remarks to the jury, which is made up of 10 women and two men. Testimony in the trial will resume at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Brown, 33, turned down a plea deal offered by prosecutors earlier this month. The offer called for Brown to plead guilty to a single count of rape, a felony of the first degree, along with one count of attempted rape and three counts of sexual battery, all second-degree felonies. In return the state offered to dismiss the remaining 14 counts.

The Lima man was released on bond following his arraignment in March but a warrant for his arrest was issued one day later after he reportedly cut off his GPS ankle monitor and fled. He eluded law enforcement until his arrest on May 15.