Jury trial begins for man charged with child molesting

Wanda English Burnett

There are two sides to every story and so far jurors have heard a little of both sides concerning charges against Robert Baston, 41, of Milan.

Baston has been charged with a Class A Felony, Child Molesting, which means he is alleged to have had sexual intercourse or deviate sexual conduct with a child under the age of 14.

In opening statements on Tuesday, Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel gave the State’s position for filing the charges and said the evidence in the next few days would bear out the reasons for the charge.

He told jurors that Baston had violated a little girl about six years old at a cookout-pool party last August. Hertel told how Baston had taken the child on a ride on a 4-wheeler to a secluded cornfield in the Milan area, where she was allegedly molested.

Hertel told the jurors in the next few days they would hear from many witnesses telling about their part in the case. Some were social workers, medical personnel including three doctors, lab technicians and police and the victim herself.

Baston is being represented by three defense attorneys, Tim Day, Jay Hoffman and Brian Newcomb.

In the opening statement, defense attorney Hoffman noted that jurors would hear different theories of what happened, and have to decide for themselves. He said his client allowed Detective Tracy Rohlfing in his home and gave him access to the quad. He said he had nothing to hide.

Defense also alluded that there could be possible contamination with the DNA process. He said the quad seat was never swabbed nor were the swimming trunks the defendant was wearing ever tested.

The first day was nearly taken up with jury selection and opening statements lasted until almost 5:30 p.m. in Ripley County Circuit Court with Judge Carl Taul presiding.
On Wednesday, June 2, the trial resumed with the victim taking the witness stand. She described her ride to what she referred to as the “forest” and said when the defendant was sexually molesting her she said to him, “No, don’t do that - no, don’t do that.” She said it made her feel miserable and went back and told her dad and aunt Sherri what had happened.

Another witness took the stand Wednesday morning for the State, Cecilia Freihofer, who is a forensic interviewer with the Mayerson Clinic, a part of Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati. She had interviewed the victim the day after the incident allegedly took place.

The trial will continue this week and jurors will then have the final instruction after all the witnesses are heard, and evidence presented. They will make the final determination as to the outcome of the trial.

(Editor’s note) Continued coverage of the trial will be reported in next week’s papers.