Tonawanda News

October 24, 2013

Teen testifies against stepfather

By Jessica Bagley jessica.bagley@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — LOCKPORT — A 14-year-old North Tonawanda girl faced her stepfather in Niagara County Court Wednesday morning and testified that he repeatedly sexually abused her after tucking her into bed. 

The teen, who wept openly on the stand several times during her testimony, told a guidance counselor about the alleged abuse in January after confessing to a friend.

Bradley McNamara, 39, of Division Street, was arrested on the same day. He was charged with second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual act, attempted second-degree rape and endangering the welfare of a child.

The girl took the stand Wednesday, the second day of the trial, and testified that the alleged abuse started in 2011, when she was 11 years old, in the room she and her half-sister shared. 

After a story and tuck-ins, the sister would roll over and go to sleep, while McNamara touched the girl inappropriately, she said in response to Assistant District Attorney Robert Zucco’s questions. 

“It was like a lingering touch on my breasts,” she said, later noting that similar incidents took place almost every night after that. 

The alleged abuse then escalated in the fall of 2011, when the family moved to Remington Drive. The teen testified that he then began touching her below the waist, with her sister sleeping nearby. 

“He tried to make me touch him ... he moved my  hand over to his private area,” she said. “It was every other night, if not every night.” 

McNamara, who posted his $30,000 bail and was freed after his arrest, allegedly performed oral sex on the girl, and attempted to get her to perform oral sex on him. At one point, he allegedly gave her a vibrator. 

“He told me not to tell anybody,” she said. 

When the family moved back to Division Street sometime last year, the teen was given her own room and the alleged abuse escalated again. 

As with the rest of her testimony, the girl struggled with testifying about the sexual abuse.

Eventually, amid tears, the girl testified that McNamara attempted to rape her.

“I didn’t know what to do,” he said. 

Despite the girl’s testimony, defense attorney Robert Berkun has argued that there is no physical evidence tying McNamara to the crimes. There is also no eyewitness testimony, and the teen’s sister, who was in the room for most of the alleged abuse, never heard anything suspicious.

“The (victim’s) story is a fantasy, it’s inconceivable,” he said during opening statements Tuesday.  

No child pornography was found on the defendant’s computer and the vibrator was never found. A physical examination of the girl also showed no bruising or forced sexual contact. Sheets from the girls bed tested negative for semen, but the girl testified Wednesday that when McNamara ejaculated, he did so in his hand, and not on the bed.

Berkun has attributed the girl’s story to an underlying problem. 

“We do know that she started asking about her biological father right around the time when the allegations were alleged to take place,” Berkun said. “Her mother ignored her requests. She also saw her guidance counselor at school 10-12 times during her seventh grade year and never once mentioned any alleged abuse.”

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.