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Trial begins for man accused of raping girls

By Tim Weideman

A trial for a Fort Riley soldier accused of raping two young girls last summer continued Tuesday in Riley County District Court with both sides providing opening statements.

In Judge David Stutzman’s courtroom, Riley County Attorney Barry Wilkerson reviewed with the 13-member jury the alleged crimes of 31-year-old Christopher Bates. Jury selection took place on Monday.

“There’s going to be some tense moments,” Wilkerson told jurors during his opening statement, referring to the nature of the case.

Bates faces a rape charge and three aggravated indecent liberties with a child charges involving a girl who was 12 years old at the time. He faces another rape charge and an aggravated criminal sodomy charge involving a girl who was 10 years old.

Each of the alleged incidents occurred in Riley County between June 1 and Aug. 11, 2013.

“In the end, this case is going to come down, when we sift through everything, to the words of two children,” Wilkserson said.

The Mercury has decided not to reveal the names of the victims due to the nature of the case.

Originally, Bates faced three other charges that involved a third female victim who was seven years old at the time.

“(The) state’s not going to go forward on those charges after meeting with the child last night,” Wilkerson said.

The older of the victims is expected to testify in the courtroom. In May, Stutzman ruled the younger girl could testify via closed circuit television.

Like Wilkerson, Bates’ attorney, Larry McRell, provided an opening statement to the jury, previewing the evidence from the defense’s perspective.

McRell said his client will testify during the trial and deny the allegations.

“He wants to testify,” McRell said. “And he is firm in that commitment.”

Wilkerson said he expects the prosecution to stop calling its witnesses on Wednesday.

At that time, the defense will be able to call its witnesses.

Tuesday’s proceedings continued with witness testimony.

The trial is expected to last all week.

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