A soldier being tried on charges of molesting a 7-year-old girl took the witness stand to deny the allegations Wednesday afternoon.
George Ferenz, 30, who now lives in Fort Worth, Texas, is charged with attempted rape, two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy and two counts of aggravated indecent liberties against a child under 14 years of age. The crimes are alleged to have taken place Oct. 21, 2012 in Manhattan when he was stationed at Fort Riley.
At press time, jurors were deliberating their verdict in the case.
Ferenz said he didn’t partake in oral sex and other intimate activities with his ex-wife’s daughter, whose last name is not Ferenz and who has since moved out of state. He said he and Amanda Ferenz, who divorced him following the molestation allegations, exaggerated events that came from the now 8-year-old girl.
He said he and Amanda had an unhappy marriage, and his former wife had called his military superiors to get him in trouble several times. That, he said, was due to her own problems with alcohol and possibly a mental disorder.
Under direct examination from his attorney, Scott Toth, Ferenz said, “Of all the other false allegations she’s made, I just thought she took it a step further.”
Amanda testified in court Wednesday that the morning after she worked a nightshift at a restaurant, she came home and found her daughter not wearing the clothes she was supposed to wear to school that day.
The girl eventually said she wore them the day before and didn’t know where they were because she had taken a shower in the master bathroom, which the mother thought was unusual because the child had her own bathroom.
The mother asked her why she showered in the master bathroom and the girl revealed she had taken a shower with George Ferenz.
Upon further questioning from her mother, the girl revealed that there were other sexual activities the girl had been persuaded to partake in after the shower.
The mother took the girl to police that same day and then to Topeka for medical tests for sexual assault.
In denying any improper behavior, George Ferenz said he and the girl took showers separately and she came in to his room to watch a movie with him.
He said they relaxed and tickled each other, which was a common thing in their household.
To explain why seminal fluid came in contact with the girl, which she described as “water” on her back, Ferenz said he had masturbated after his shower before she came into his room and “something probably got on her.” In opening statements, prosecutor Bethany Fields noted that no fluid had been found. She said Ferenz had wiped it off with a towel.Ferenz said when asked by police whether he touched the child’s crotch that he probably could have accidentally touched it during the tickling game, but then promptly stopped.
Staff Sgt. Dustin Peterson, who has known Ferenz for four years, was the last witness for the defense before state prosecutor Barry Disney and Toth made closing arguments Thursday morning.
When asked by Toth, Peterson verified Ferenz’s claim that Amanda called military superiors to get him in trouble several times before. Peterson said he once received a phone call from Amanda, who said Ferenz punched her, took the keys to the van and went off somewhere.
Peterson called him “honest” and said Ferenz would tell him the truth.
During cross-examination, Disney told Peterson about some of the evidence presented such as Ferenz’ admission that he had previously showered with the child. Peterson said he didn’t know of that, but it didn’t change his opinion about Ferenz.
During the closing arguments, Disney said the only reasonable options based on the evidence presented were that either the child is telling the truth or Amanda told her daughter what to say. He said both the child and Amanda would have made up more about Ferenz if they were lying.
Disney brought up the child’s inability to remember certain details during her testimony as evidence of its authenticity. “Could a 7- or 8-year-old child pull of an acting job like this?” Disney asked the jury.
Toth said the state hadn’t proved its case well enough to support a guilty verdict, citing the lack of DNA evidence found on the child and the lack of mention of the shower in the child’s testimony. He also brought up Amanda’s history, saying she has lied about whether her daughter had ever walked in on Amanda and Ferenz having sex. Toth gave options for the jury to consider such as Amanda coaching her daughter, the child coming up with the story herself to avoid trouble about not wearing the clothes Amanda chose for her or a misinterpretation of the events.