Christopher Bates took the stand on Thursday in Riley County District Court, where he denied the child molestation allegations that have been brought against him.
The 31-year-old Fort Riley soldier faces numerous charges linked to incidents involving two sisters, 12 and 10 years old at the time, alleged to have occurred between June 1 and Aug. 11, 2013.
Bates was a close friend of the girls’ father, who is also a Fort Riley soldier. The two men worked together and would spend time together at each other’s homes.
Bates said he and his wife spent some nights at the family’s home last summer. Bates also testified that he spent the night at the family’s home without his wife on a couple of occasions last August, but never had any inappropriate contact with the girls.
To protect the girls’ identities, The Mercury is not naming them or their parents. The alleged incidents occurred at the girls’ home, but The Mercury is not revealing the home’s location.
According to the girls, who both testified on Tuesday, the alleged incidents occurred on nights when Bates had spent the night at their house. They said on two occasions he asked them to come downstairs and watch TV with him.
Bates denied any of that ever happened. He said that, throughout that entire summer period, he had only gone into the older sister’s room once because her father asked him to investigate a spot on the ceiling showing water damage.
While answering questions from his attorney, Larry McRell, and questions from Riley County Attorney Barry Wilkerson, Bates would occasionally glance to his right where the jurors were seated.
During cross-examination, Wilkerson asked Bates to confirm that he wasn’t ever going to admit that from late July and into August, he had inappropriate contact with the older sister, including one incident where he allegedly put his hands down her underwear.
“I didn’t put my hands down there,” Bates said.
Wilkerson asked Bates to confirm that he wasn’t ever going to admit that on Aug. 10 or 11, while Bates was spending the night at the family’s home, he again touched the girl inappropriately and put his finger in the older sister’s vagina.
“I didn’t do it,” Bates said.
Bates is charged with rape and three counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child for three incidents involving the older sister. He is charged with aggravated criminal sodomy and aggravated indecent liberties with a child for an incident involving the younger sister.
Bates said in court that he was contacted by Riley County Police Detective Julia Goggins on Aug. 12, 2013, regarding the incidents.
“She said that she needed to interview me,” Bates said.
Bates added that he denied the allegations once Goggins informed him.
Before prosecutors rested their case on Wednesday, Goggins testified that she interviewed the two sisters listed as the victims as part of the RCPD’s investigation, which began on Aug. 11, 2013.
While Goggins sat in the witness stand, prosecutors showed the jury video recordings from her separate interviews with the sisters, who were 12 and 10 years old at the time.
In the first video, Goggins asked the older sister if she knew why she was being interviewed. The girl said yes and described what she said Bates did the night of Aug. 10 or the early morning of Aug. 11, 2013.
During the interview, the older sister told Goggins that Bates, but not his wife, spent the night at their house on Aug. 10. The family had a gathering earlier that day and into the night.
The girl told Goggins what had happened.
When Goggins asked whether she was sure it was Bates, the girl said she was because similar occurrences took place twice before in prior weeks.
Goggins asked the girl to describe what happened those times.
In one of the incidents, the girl said she woke up in her bedroom to find Bates’ hand underneath her covers, rubbing her leg. He stopped when the girl’s dad came into the room.
“My dad didn’t really ask any questions,” the girl said in the video. “He just walked in. I guess maybe he heard somebody.”
Originally, Goggins had interviewed the younger sister, too, but that girl never mentioned anything had happened between her and Bates.
On Wednesday in court, Goggins said the girls’ father called her a few days following the initial interview with the younger sister, to report that she had said something did happen.
“He was upset,” Goggins recalled. “I believe he was crying. He explained (the younger sister) had disclosed to his wife some additional abuse.”
Jurors were shown the video from Goggins’ second interview with the younger sister.
The girl said Bates, who had spent the night on that occasion, too, came into her bedroom and asked her to come downstairs to watch TV with him.
The alleged abuse happened once the two sat down on the couch together.
During her testimony in court, Goggins told Wilkerson that it’s not uncommon for children to withhold information about sexual assaults. She added that it’s sometimes harder to get them to provide information.
“It comes in bits and pieces,” she said.
McRell asked Goggins whether she had collected clothing as evidence from the incidents.
Goggins said she didn’t collect any clothing because none of the incidents involved the transfer of body fluids. She added that time had passed between the incidents and their interviews.
McRell also asked Goggins whether the younger sister had revealed in her first interview that someone else had touched her inappropriately.
Goggins said the girl told her about a friend at school who put their hands down her pants.
Prosecutors later called the girls’ former therapist, Wanda Hugget, to the stand.
The girls visited Hugget, a clinical psychologist, on Fort Riley from September 2013 to February 2014.
Though the girls both eventually opened up to Hugget about what they said happened, Hugget said helping police or prosecutors was not one of her duties.
According to Hugget, the older sister’s demeanor changed when talking about the incidents.
“She wasn’t the happy, bubbly child I usually saw when she talked about singing, plays – things she enjoyed doing,” Hugget said.
During his cross-examination, McRell asked Hugget if those observations could have been because of other stress sources.
“It could be,” Hugget said. “But at the time, she was not exhibiting those prior to (the incidents).”
After McRell asked how she knew that, Hugget answered that her knowledge of the older sister’s behavior came from family reports and school history.
As for the younger sister, Hugget said that during their sessions she revealed she was worried about Bates seeing the family go to therapy on post, where he lived, and running them over in his car. “She would talk about being scared and afraid,” Hugget said.