Judge: Boy who accuses teacher of sex assault may not be credible

teacherverification December 19, 2013 0

by: Kevin Amerman

The energetic 10-year-old boy raised his hand and vowed to tell the truth about a sexual assault the boy said a substitute teacher committed while they were in a bathroom of his Allentown elementary school.

The boy, who appeared on a television screen through a closed-circuit feed so he wouldn’t have to face his alleged assailant in the courtroom, sounded confident when he said Michael Agrippine, 47, sexually assaulted him at Union Terrace Elementary School.

Fidgeting at times, the boy revealed new allegations. He said twice a week, Agrippine would “snatch” him from the bus when he arrived at school and would take him to the bathroom.

He also said he had been eating cheeseburgers with Agrippine in the school lunchroom just before the assault when the teacher asked him to go to the bathroom. The boy, a third-grader at the time, said the teacher led him to the bathroom, then told him to wait there until he returned with another student.

The boy testified that Agrippine then returned with the other student and sexually assaulted him. The boy has claimed before that the other student sexually assaulted him as well.

“I was in the lunchroom with Mr. A and he said, ‘Let’s go to the bathroom,’ and he pulled down his pants and I saw his pee pee,” the boy said.

Agrippine’s attorney, Ed Angelo, called for the hearing in an attempt to show the child is incompetent to testify at trial. He argued that the new details claimed by the boy and the fact that many of them are “implausible” should have rendered him incompetent.

The boy, now a fourth-grader in cyber school, told Judge Kelly L. Banach that Agrippine had been at Union Terrace the entire school year last year from September on.

“He was there every day except Fridays,” the boy said.

But Angelo said Agrippine, a married father of two from Upper Saucon Township, was only there for one week and was at the school “at no other time.”

“I think we heard from a very vibrant, sweet child,” Angelo told Banach. “Nonetheless, he’s stated some things that are implausible. … It’s more than just memory issues — it’s the creation of events that couldn’t have happened.”

The boy said in a previous interview that Agrippine had a rubber band on his penis that had polka dots on it, according to Angelo. On Friday, he said Agrippine didn’t have a rubber band on his penis.

Banach acknowledged the boy has credibility issues given his inconsistent and seemingly incorrect testimony about some facts, but she said under the law he is competent to testify.

“I have to separate out issues of competency and issues of credibility,” Banach said. “Some things he said were not credible or consistent, but he meets the criteria for competency.”

Banach said witnesses must show they can understand questions and answer them.

“I think he’s a competent witness,” the judge added. “Do I think he’s a good witness? Not necessarily. But that’s an issue for another day.”

It was also revealed at the hearing that the boy, who takes two medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, accused a juvenile of sexually assaulting him in 2012 in Northampton County — a claim that didn’t result in criminal prosecution.

“Was it determined to be founded or unfounded?” Angelo asked the boy’s mother.

“The investigation was never completed,” the mother said, adding the alleged attacker in that case couldn’t be prosecuted “because he was a child.”

Police claim Agrippine on Jan. 18 pushed the boy, a special education student, against a wall, held him from behind, pulled down his pants and penetrated him with a finger. In a police video, the boy says the assaults happened on two consecutive days.

This article originally appeared on mcall

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