published Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

LaFayette, Ga., man's child molestation case in hands of jury

Eleven men and a woman will decide today whether a 67-year-old Chattooga County, Ga., employee is guilty of molesting a 15-year-old girl more than four years ago.

Alvin Moses, of LaFayette, Ga., was arrested in July 2009 on charges of aggravated sexual battery and four counts of child molestation after police said the girl confessed to her aunt.

She told police that Moses had watched her take a shower, touched her vagina and digitally penetrated her when she, her younger sister and her mother were living with Moses and his wife at his LaFayette home.

In a Walker County courtroom Tuesday, the teenager, her mother and her sister all accused Moses of molesting them.

Moses sat stoic, his white wavy hair matching the color of his crisp shirt. He declined to take the stand.

The mother of the two girls said the incident involving her happened 30 years ago when she was a child. Moses had come into her room and stuck his hand into her pants, she said. She pretended to stay asleep.

Yet more than two decades later, she took her girls back to live with Moses when she was going through a divorce and had nowhere else to live.

"Changed man"

"I thought he was a changed man," the mother testified. "He went to church. He wasn't the same man that cussed all the time."

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Hartline explained later that prosecutors couldn't indict Moses in the case against the mother because the statue of limitations had run out, and that they "didn't get far enough with" the younger sister to press charges.

Defense attorney Rex Abernathy questioned inconsistencies in each woman's testimony from the time police first interviewed them in 2009 to their Monday and Tuesday testimony.

The mother told police she had been molested over several years when she was a child, yet in court Tuesday she insisted it was only one time. Her daughter, too, couldn't remember if Moses actually had walked in on her in the shower or had glanced at her from an outside window.

Prosecutors blamed the four years for the change in stories, Abernathy said the charges were made up.

"The case is very troubling to me," he told the jury. "He's 67 years old, and he's never been in trouble before."

The teenager making the accusations had behavior problems and had been kicked out of school, evidence showed. Her mother was identified as bipolar.

Moses, who works for the Chattooga County Public Works department, doesn't have a prior record.

"A foolish thing"

After Moses was arrested in 2009, his former supervisor, Lamar Canada, testified that he visited Moses in jail and heard something he didn't want to hear.

"I did a foolish thing," Canada remembers him saying.

Moses didn't confess to molestation, Canada testified, but Moses said he had stuck a pack of cigarettes down one girls' cleavage and a lighter in the other girl's pants.

"I'm glad they caught me when they did," Canada testified Moses told him. "Because I would have had sex with one of them."

Abernathy told the jury that Moses wasn't on trial for something he didn't do.

The jury will reconvene this morning to deliberate on all five counts of abuse.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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