Testimony began today in the trial of a 19-year-old Jefferson County man charged with abusing three children at a daycare in Clay. Eric Lemont Higdon is being tried as an adult.
During opening statements this morning jurors heard two completely different scenarios.
Prosecutor Carlos Gonzales told jurors this case is about innocence; and that Higdon was responsible for taking that innocence from three children. The alleged abuse took place in 2012 at Mama's Place Christian Academy in Clay where Higdon volunteered. The prosecution told jurors it expects to show how Higdon took the children alone to bathrooms and empty classrooms.
Then defense attorney Charles Salvagio spoke. He told the jury this is a case about money. He said the parents of the children involved were late on their payments to the daycare.
A mother of one of the children was the prosecution's first witness. She testified that twice during the summer of 2012 she noticed her child, who she says was five at the time, touching a younger sibling inappropriately. When she asked where such behavior was learned, she says the child told her Higdon had touched him that way.
Three children were called to the stand and questioned by the prosecution. Two were able to identify Higdon. None of them gave details about what allegedly happened.
Finally, the clinical director for the Prescott House Children's advocacy center was called to the stand. Marybeth Thomas testified that the three children in court today were interviewed at the Prescott House and disclosed information about sexual abuse. She says she recommended their cases for prosecution. Thomas says some 500 children undergo what they call "forensic interviews" at the Prescott house each year.
Less than one fourth of them are recommended for prosecution.