Victim details alleged abuse
HOLLIDAYSBURG – An 11-year-old girl testified Wednesday how an Altoona man who periodically visited her Allegheny Township neighborhood sexually abused her over two or three summers.
The defendant, Philip Reid McCready, 36, is denying the charges. His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Ed Ferguson, pointed out to a Blair County jury that a medical exam of the child revealed no evidence of sexual abuse.
McCready faces charges of child rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, false imprisonment, indecent assault, aggravated indecent assault and corruption of minors.
Blair County Assistant District Attorney Ilissa Zimmerman called the child as a witness. The girl, speaking softly, described how McCready touched her, how he made her touch him, how he hurt her and how he did “a bad thing.”
She took a tissue to wipe the tears away once, and at times she made eye contact with the jury of six men and six women.
While she was between 5 and 8 years old when the alleged abuse took place, the girl never revealed what happened to her until she was at a picnic and happened to tell a cousin about McCready touching her.
It didn’t take long for that story to get back to her parents.
Her testimony revealed the plethora of interviews a young child goes through before a sexual abuse case goes to a jury.
Her first discussion about the alleged abuse occurred with her mother and father.
That day, she was taken to the Allegheny Township Police Department to meet with Officer John Reeder and representatives of Blair County Children Youth and Families.
She next was taken by her parents and child welfare officials to the Children’s Resource Center in Harrisburg. There she told her story to a highly trained interviewer who had her explain what McCready did to her and had her prepare two drawings depicting in more detail what she was describing.
She also told her story to a licensed professional counselor, Heather Attia of Altoona, who is an expert in dealing with psychological trauma that children suffer through abuse.
Through it all, Zimmerman said the child’s story remained consistent.
The girl from the beginning said that McCready told her, “Don’t tell anybody. Keep it a secret.”
According to her testimony, McCready visited a home near hers in the summer.
He abused the girl in the bedroom of the home he visited while the occupants of the home were at work, according to the child.
She told the jury she once tried to get away, but McCready grabbed her wrists and used his body to restrain her, leading to a charge of false imprisonment.
Zimmerman, over the objections of McCready’s attorney played a 41-minute video of the interview at the Children’s Resource Center.
While the youngster drew and played at the table, the interviewer asked her questions about her family, her schooling, the names of her teachers and then focused on what bad things might have happened to her, finally having her reveal who did those things.
“Tell me more about what happened with Philip?” the interviewer said.
As Zimmerman outlined the specifics of the acts McCready is alleged to have committed, she told the jury, “I am sorry you will have to hear this.”
Ferguson asked the jurors to view the case under the legal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The prosecution is expected to conclude its case today.