Victim testified she was afraid to disclose abuse

Defendant's wife said victim was never at her home alone with her husband
By Juliette Laaka | Jun 16, 2014

Rockland — A 13-year-old victim testified she was afraid to tell her family about the sexual abuse she suffered for about two years until she feared a younger relative would also be abused if she did not speak up.

The trial for Eric Vultee, 44, of Rockport began June 16 in Knox County Superior Court. The state and defense rested June 17, and the jury is expected to deliberate June 18.

Vultee was indicted in February 2013 on 14 charges, 11 counts of unlawful sexual touching, one count of gross sexual assault, one count of visual sexual aggression against a child and sexual misconduct with a child.

Vultee maintains his innocence. He did not testify at the trial.

On the stand June 16, the victim said she was fearful because Vultee threatened to hurt her if she confided in anybody about the assault.

The victim was between 8 and 10 years old when the sex crimes were reportedly committed between 2009 and 2011.

She eventually told a family friend she had been sexually abused, and she did not want it to happen to anybody else. She tried to tell her older sister before, but was told not to tell anybody. The victim said her sister did not really believe her.

The victim testified the abuse began when she would stay at Vultee's house when her mother would play bingo on Thursday nights. Sometimes her sister would also be at the Rockport home with her. She said Vultee would holler at her to come upstairs under the premise they would watch Scooby-Doo movies.

She said once she was in the room, Vultee would lock the door, and play pornographic movies. He would tell her to undress, and he would touch her, or sometimes he would have her touch him, she said. On one occasion, the victim said Vultee attempted to have intercourse with her, but she was able to push him away.

During the times of abuse, the victim said she would often close her eyes and try to pretend nothing was happening. She said the abuse occurred more than 10 times, but could not remember exactly how many times.

Erik Vultee's wife, Robin, testified June 17 the victim and her sister were never at her home while she and the girls' mother went to bingo. She told the court the girls would only come to her house for a cook-out or to play with her grandchildren, and were never alone with her husband.

Vultee said she and the victim's mother had a falling out about work, and did not speak for a year. She said they began to speak again in 2012, but later in the spring they stopped having contact. She also testified the victim's mother and Erik did not get along.

In July 2012, Detective Jason Andrews with the Maine State Police began to investigate the case, and met with both the Vultees and the victim after allegations of abuse surfaced.

Defense attorney Steven Peterson said when a search of Vultee's residence was conducted by police, no pornographic films were found. He also stated abuse would be impossible without a witness to corroborate the allegations as the home where the alleged crimes occurred is small and with the victim's sister also at the home on some occasions, the abuse would have been noticed.

Vultee also said there was not a lock on the bedroom door until her husband was in a car accident that caused a back injury. He was prescribed pain medication for the injury, and they bought two locks for the door to keep their young grandchildren out of the bedroom where the medications were kept.

Rushlau asked Vultee on the stand when the accident occurred exactly, and she said she did not know, but knew the locks were purchased after the accident. She said the locks were bought April 28, 2012, after the accident.

Rushlau said the accident happened in April 2009, and Vultee responded by saying " I guess," adding she she did not remember the exact date.

She also said there were no pornographic movies in her home currently, and that the two videos she had, she gave away in 2008.

Vultee's daughter, Danielle Ward, who lived at the Vultee home from 2008 to 2010, said the victim was never at the home alone, and testified her mother and Erik eventually moved in 2008 to Erik's mother's home in Camden to help care for her mother's ill father-in-law. The Vultee's eventually moved back to their Rockport residence in 2010.

Ward said while living at the home, she never saw anything improper between Vultee and the victim. She said when the victim was at the house, she would be playing with other children in the house, namely Ward's two young daughters.

Closing statements will be given Wednesday, June 18.

Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at jlaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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Juliette Laaka
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Juliette primarily covers the cops and courts beat for The Courier-Gazette.

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