Trial starts for Caldwell man accused of sex with child

Date: 2009-11-18

Girl, now 13, testifies about abuse that allegedly began when she was 11.


The girl spoke quietly, haltingly for about an hour on the witness stand Monday, not looking at defendant Kekoa Glenn Gaunavinaka.

"I'm just laying there quiet and trying to talk to him so I can get distracted," she said. Asked what she talked about, she said, "about school or about the puppy ... about how my day went or how I liked going to the movies. I didn't want to think about what was happening to me."

Afterwards, she said, Gaunavinaka would cry and say it would never happen again. Instead, she said, it happened frequently: "sometimes it was every day and sometimes it was every few days."

Gaunavinaka, 35, leaned forward intently as he listened to the testimony, occasionally furrowing his brow or shaking his head slightly. A grand jury indicted him in August on a charge of felony lewd conduct with a child. He entered a plea of not guilty.

The defense did not address the jury Monday, electing to reserve its opening statement until after the prosecution completes its case Tuesday.

In addition to the girl, first-day witnesses included an investigator and a pediatric nurse practitioner who examined the girl internally and found a distinct injury "consistent with some kind of penetrating trauma." Sexual abuse of children rarely leaves physical evidence, Alisa Ortega testified, which makes this case unusual.

Deputy Canyon County Prosecutor Erica Kallin told jurors Gaunavinaka lavished time and attention on the girl, often taking her out for a movie or ice cream and disappearing with her for hours. On many of those outings, she said, he took the girl to remote locations and had sex with her in the car.

The girl said she knew and loved Gaunavinaka as a "fun, active" person before he began touching her inappropriately.

She said she started her period earlier this year, and Gaunavinaka had talked to her about that eventuality.

"He said he'd have to stop when I started, so I wouldn't get pregnant," she said.

The abuse ended last March, she said. She reported it during the summer, after Gaunavinaka was already in jail on separate charges.

"One night I just broke down and I couldn't deal with it anymore," she said.


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