By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — A former employee of a Belmont businessman accused of four counts of raping a child back in the late 1990s testified yesterday that he saw the alleged victim on top of the accused, which corroborates her earlier testimony.
Despite witness "JJ's" admitted drinking problem during the late 1990 and his on-again off-again employment with Steven Price, he was adamant that he walked by Price's living room and saw the alleged victim on top of Price.
"I've been known to drink a few beers back them, but I still know what I saw," he testified.
The alleged rape victim was caught stealing $30,000 in jewelry from Price in 2014. On the day she was scheduled to plead guilty, which was Oct. 2, 2014, she told her attorney about the alleged assaults, which triggered charges against Price. The charge of theft was dropped and the alleged victim was given immunity from prosecution from anything she would say in Price's trial.
"I saw them on the couch, playing or wrestling," J.J. said, corroborating a statement made the victim earlier in the trial that J.J. saw them for about three seconds in a compromising position. He said they were fully clothed but that she was on top of him and if they didn't have their clothes on, he believes he would have witnessed sexual intercourse.
About a month later, he said he and Price had an argument after which J.J. says he quit and others say he was fired, and he went to a body shop on Route 140 owned by Leon Cram and told him what he saw. He said Cram "hated" Price and wanted to make trouble for him so he called the police. Cram later denied that.
J.J. didn't remember talking to Officer Sean Sullivan, but Cram remembered talking to him. He said J.J. was not drunk when he first came to the shop, but was drinking beer during their conversation. Retired Belmont Detective Steven Crockett testified that Sullivan responded immediately, but turned the case over to him after noting in his report that J.J. appeared intoxicated so he didn't interview him.
Crockett said he called J.J., who spoke with him on the phone but didn't show up for his formal statement the next day. He said he found J.J., interviewed him and then went to talk to the alleged victim, who denied they had any kind of sexual relationship.
Crockett said later that night, Price, whom he barely knew, called him at his home and demanded to know who the witness was, which was consistent with the alleged victim saying she called Price immediately after talking with police. Crockett closed the case.
Under cross-examination by Price's attorney, J.J. reiterated what he saw that day, but contradicted a number of other statements the alleged victim made during her testimony that were mostly about her role as babysitter.
J.J. said the alleged victim was at the shop all of the time and that Price would often pick her up from school. He described the relationship between all of them as "like a family" but that there was a lot of touching and grabbing between the two.
The jury also heard testimony from a high school friend of the alleged victim who said she saw the relationship between Price and her friend develop during their high school years.
S.M. said she saw the two often at the alleged victim's parents' house, which was when they were 14 and 15, and occasionally went to the shop. She said that they acted "like boyfriend and girlfriend" when it was just the three of them, and the two were often seen hugging and holding hands.
S.M. said that the two stayed in casual contact after the alleged victim left the area, but when she returned to New Hampshire, the alleged victim lived with her. She said they fell out because of the alleged victim's "untruthfulness" about a matter involving S.M.'s boyfriend.
During the alleged victim's testimony, she said she and S.M. once "made out" in front of Price but under cross- examination, S.M. gave an emphatic "No" when asked about it.
The trial continues Monday with continued cross-examination of S.M.