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Two charged in shelter molestation appear in juvenile court

Two teenagers charged with aggravated child molestation after allegedly assaulting a 7-year-old at Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter in 2014 appeared Thursday in juvenile court.

The matter went before Judge Jamie Averett for adjudication, a legal process where a judge reviews evidence and testimony to reach a decision. The matter was sent to Cherokee County for prosecution after a conflict with District Attorney Rosemary Greene’s office. Greene served on the board of the shelter’s parent agency, Advocates for Children.

During her opening statement, Cherokee County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Ashley Snow called the alleged incident the “worst placement fears come to fruition.”

Testimony opened up with a now 13-year-old who lived at Flowering Branch during April 2014 when the incident occurred.

The boy said one of the teens approached his room and asked if he’d join several boys in the bathroom, but he declined.

When he later went into the bathroom, he testified he observed the victim performing oral sex on the teen. He said he ran back to his room and closed the door. An hour later, he sought out the victim’s older brother, telling him what he’d observed.

Defense attorney Ravelle Smith asked the boy about statements during a forensic interview that indicated the victim’s brother witnessed the incident, not the boy.

The boy testified that he did not recall saying that and he was the witness.

When Snow asked why the boy may have trouble recalling what happened, he said, “I really don’t like talking about this stuff. It’s just eww.”

The victim’s brother also testified, saying he talked to the boy about what happened.

“I was very confused and upset,” the brother said.

Despite saying one of the suspects threatened to kill him, the brother confronted the teen.

“He told me, yeah, he did it,” the brother testified.

He then confronted the other teen who denied it.

“I assumed he was lying” based on the amount of description provided by the other suspect, the brother said.

The brother told the staff some time later, after struggling with anger and frustration, lashing out with destructive behavior. He spoke with his mother several days after telling staff. His mother notified police.

Mid-morning Thursday, the now 9-year-old victim took the stand.

He spoke little, saying he and one of the suspects had performed “workouts” together. He said they worked out in his bedroom and the bathroom where no one would hear them, doing “circle pushups” or “one-armed pushups.”

The victim said he did not recall what he told the forensic interviewer.

The recording of the victim’s interview was played midday.

During the interview, the boy disclosed that the teens had touched him on the genitals through his clothing on several occasions. He also indicated he was sodomized by the teens.

Testimony resumes Tuesday morning in juvenile court.

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