Beach: Girls’ claims untrue
City man testifies on own behalf during sexual assault trial
HOLLIDAYSBURG — An Altoona man told a Blair County jury Thursday that he doesn’t know why two girls have accused him of sexually assaulting them.
“I know you don’t know me,” 42-year-old Richard W. Beach told the jury as he stood at a podium and testified on his own behalf. “But I would never, never touch (these girls).”
Beach, who elected to represent himself during the trial, spoke favorably about the relationship he and the girls had prior to May 2016. That’s when they separately disclosed that, when they were between 14 and 17 years old, Beach had sexually abused them, prompting a police investigation leading to Beach’s arrest on July 16, 2016.
Upon arrest, Beach’s bail was set at $150,000 cash, and he has since remained in Blair County Prison.
In court today, First Assistant District Attorney Pete Weeks and Assistant District Attorney Nichole Smith will ask the jury to convict Beach of multiple counts of sexual offenses including rape by forcible compulsion, aggravated indecent assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. During the first three days of the trial, the prosecutors called several witnesses, including the alleged victims, to testify in support of the charges.
In court Thursday after Beach completed testimony, Smith asked Beach, during cross-examination, if he recalled the day his mother walked in on him and one of the alleged victims in the girl’s bedroom.
Beach said yes and described himself as sitting on top of the girl as she lay on her bed. He said they had been “cuddling” and “wrestling” and that the girl had pulled his chest hair.
“She’s 17 and you’re 39,” Smith pointed out in her question.
Beach said he recalled his mother saying that what she saw “didn’t look good.”
But both Beach and his mother, who also testified Thursday, said that Beach was clothed and that he immediately got off the girl and they all went downstairs.
Smith also asked Beach about 181 bookmarked pornography websites on his computer, including ones with titles suggesting content that involved teenagers and anal sex. Beach admitted to owning and viewing pornographic files but said he had no recollection of any titles.
In response, Smith started naming some of the titles, and Beach again denied any familiarity.
When Smith named a few more titles, Beach, who has been soft-spoken and mild-mannered in court, responded with an irritation in his voice.
“Would you like to give the jury a list?” Beach asked Smith. “I told you that I don’t remember titles.”
While Beach advised President Judge Elizabeth Doyle that he intended to call several defense witnesses, Doyle advised him that criminal trial rules prevent his witnesses from testifying about his alleged victims’ prior bad acts or alleged sexual activities.
In addition, forensic biologist Arthur W. Young, who was expected to testify for the defense, left court without taking the stand. Young was expected to raise questions about the DNA evidence linking Beach to the bodily fluid stains found on one of the girl’s underpants. But based on information Young submitted to the court, Doyle asked him to provide a scientific authority in support of his conclusions. Without that, the judge concluded that Young would only be offering a personal opinion.
Young told the judge Wednesday that he lacked information from state police DNA lab analysts in order to question their testimony. He said he typically would receive that information when asked to examine evidence.
In making her ruling, Doyle reminded Beach that the state police DNA lab analysts, when testifying, could not specify how Beach’s semen got onto the girl’s underwear.
In his testimony, Beach suggested that it could have happened when a towel or shirt with his semen was left in the bathroom and the girl, who took a shower there, left her underpants in the same place. He also told the jury that he and the girl’s mother had intercourse on the girl’s bed. The mother, in rebuttal testimony, said she recalled Beach trying to initiate intercourse on the girl’s bed, but she refused.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.