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Child rape charges survive challenge

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A defense attorney told a Blair County judge on Tuesday that the prosecution’s case against his client is based on the testimony of a 10-year-old child who isn’t believable.

“There’s nothing about this child’s testimony that’s deserving of credibility,” Johnstown attorney David Weaver said on behalf of Brian Cinko, 49, who is on trial for child rape, aggravated indecent assault and related charges filed by Logan Township police in November 2019.

Outside the presence of the jury, Weaver asked President Judge Elizabeth Doyle to acquit his client of all charges. He made that request shortly after First Assistant District Attorney Nichole Smith finished her case that included testimony from Logan Township Sgt. David Hoover, who filed the charges.

Weaver accused Hoover of basing the charges on the allegations of a child who makes up stories about putting a sticker on a deer and removing a deer from a bear trap.

In questioning Hoover, Weaver suggested that the officer had failed to look for and collect trace evidence — hair, blood, semen or DNA samples — after the child’s allegations surfaced during an interview at the Altoona Center for Child Justice.

Hoover, in response, pointed out that more than a month had passed between the date of the last alleged encounter and the child’s interview where the child described what allegedly had been going on with Cinko.

Smith countered Weaver’s request by referencing the child’s graphic details during the interview at the Altoona Center for Child Justice. She also referenced related facts and testimony that she said were sufficient to ask the jury to decide.

Doyle indicated that based on the child’s allegations, as reflected in testimony and in his videotaped interview at the Altoona Center for Child Justice, the prosecution’s presentation of evidence was sufficient for the charges to remain intact.

The trial that began Monday and could wrap up as early as today, is based on charges filed in late 2019. Cinko had invited the boy’s family to move into his Logan Township apartment when they needed a place to stay. At the time the invitation was extended, Cinko said he was planning to move out, but didn’t follow through.

The boy’s mother told the jury she became suspicious of Cinko after seeing him in bed with her son, on a night when his younger daughter awakened her. She said Cinko was wearing only his underwear.

The apartment’s landlord, who testified Tuesday, said she ordered Cinko to move out after learning of the family’s suspicions.

Testimony also indicated that the county’s Children, Youth & Families was contacted and arrangements were made for the boy, then eight years old, and his sister, then five or six years old, to be interviewed at the Altoona Center for Child Justice. The sister offered no relevant allegations, based on trial testimony.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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