Child doesn't recall accused molester

By Ed Brock

Smiling and giggling, the 6-year-old boy told a jury that he didn't remember Kenneth Chappell, the man accused of molesting him two years before.

On the way out, the boy slapped five with Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Rita Lewis.

The state rested its case shortly after the boy, who was three at the time the boy's mother accused Chappell of molesting the boy while babysitting him at Chappell's Jonesboro home in May 2001.

Chappell, 39, was also a 10-year veteran of the Clayton County Sheriff's Office at the time, but his employment was terminated after his arrest.

Chappell's attorney Ricky Morris immediately asked for a directed verdict in the case following the boy's testimony.

"He didn't recognize the name and he didn't recognize the man sitting in front of him," Morris said.

Morris' motion was not granted for most of the charges against Chappell but Clayton County Superior Court Judge Matthew Simmons did dismiss a charge of enticing a child against Chappell that depended on his having taken the child to his house. In dismissing that charge Simmons noted that Chappell had picked up the child at the request of the boy's mother.

There was contradictory testimony from two witnesses who appeared Tuesday regarding the manner in which the boy made comments that led his mother to accuse Chappell. The boy's father testified that the boy's mother, his ex-wife, had told him she caught the boy touching another boy on his genitals while the two were bathing.

When the mother told him not to do that, the boy responded "Ken do that," according to the father's testimony.

However, the mother of the other boy, a friend of the alleged victim's mother, testified that the two boys never bathed together between the time Chappell babysat his accuser's son and the time they went to police. She also said she had overheard the boy make the statement to his mother and that it came in reference to something that happened while the boy was using the bathroom alone.

The jury also heard an audio tape of the police interview with the boy in which he answered no several times when asked if Ken or anybody had touched him on the night of the incident, but he did say Chappell bit him "right here." The boy's father testified that the boy pointed toward his private parts when making that statement.

More details about Chappell's relationship with the mother came out during Chappell's testimony. He first met the mother in 1985 when she was a child and he was 21, Chappell said.

She lived next door and he often babysat her. He kept in contact with her even after she moved to Florida.

Chappell also said he co-signed on a $4,000 loan to pay for the woman's wedding with the father of the boy. She defaulted on that loan three months before making these accusations, Chappell said.

In her testimony Monday the mother also said that she stopped paying on the loans after making the accusations against Chappell.

"I was mad. I felt like, I'm not paying that man," the mother said.

Chappell said he had fatherly feelings for the mother but those feelings changed to something else later, a fact hit upon by Lewis in her cross-examination of Chappell.

"Those fatherly feelings developed into a sexual attraction," Lewis said.

Chappell responded that his feelings for the mother did become sexual after she entered puberty.

Some time before the accusations were made, the boy's mother and father separated and he asked her to begin a relationship with him, Chappell said. She told him she thought of him as a father and not as a boyfriend.

In her cross examination, Lewis also questioned Chappell about whether or not he had ever had a serious relationship with an adult, why he had a picture of the boy's mother as a child in his possession and even why he owned a pair of pink bunny slippers.

"They were a present from my sister for Christmas," Chappell said.

Chappell denied several times that he ever did anything inappropriate to the boy.

Under cross-examination, he did testify that on more than one occasion while babysitting the boy he did shower with him. He said he did it in order to keep the youngster from running around in the house while he was showering.

Chappell told the jury the accusations have greatly damaged his life.

"They took away my job, they destroyed my career," Chappell said, breaking into tears. "The past two years have been hell."