BELTON — Former Nolanville Mayor Charlie Lee Stewart’s rape trial continued Tuesday with his accuser, a 14-year-old girl, testifying about multiple rapes over a nearly yearlong period.
The victim is a relative of Stewart’s and was 12 at the time of the alleged sexual assaults. She spoke softly when questioned by both a Bell County prosecutor and Stewart’s defense attorney.
Stewart, 59, took notes and showed no emotion while the teenager repeatedly gave details of a period of time where she stayed at his Nolanville home. She told the court she would pretend to be asleep while Stewart would rape her, incidents that occurred on a near daily basis.
“I would just try to think of something else … just that I wanted to go home to my mom,” she told the court.
Jurors looked intently at the girl and then back at lawyers, who tried to sensitively ask her questions. In a timid voice, she answered “I don’t know” to questions posed by Stewart’s defense attorney about dates and the number of conversations she had with police and relatives about the assaults.
At the outset of the day, prosecutor Shelley Strimple said testimony would uncover the “dark secrets” of the Stewart family. As the day went on, the jury learned the principal victim was not the only family member to accuse Stewart of sexual abuse.
Two other relatives of Stewart’s told the court the former mayor molested them as children. One, now 19 years old, said she was in the seventh grade when Stewart drove her out to a field, where he tried to fondle her in his truck.
She resisted and attempted to run away. However, she tripped and Stewart was able to overpower her and rape her, she testified.
She also provided what may have been the most damaging evidence presented Tuesday when she read a letter Stewart mailed her, encouraging her to recant her rape allegation. His letter provided a word-for-word revised statement she should give to police, reasons why she would change her statement and instructions to destroy the letter.
The other relative, now 36, would have been either 12 or 13 when she was the victim of alleged sexual abuse.
She said Stewart molested her while in Natchez, Miss., an allegation that resulted in a conviction of a charge of child fondling. She said Stewart also raped her in Bell County.
A fourth alleged victim unrelated to Stewart said he molested her when she would stay over at his house.
All of their allegations came after the 14-year-old relative made an outcry to her mother.
Strimple said she expects to wrap up her case this morning. Testimony will continue at 9 a.m. in the 426th District Court in Belton. Judge Fancy Jezek is presiding.