Trial nears end in Cecil County molestation case
ELKTON — A woman accused of molesting a boy over a three-year period while babysitting him inside his Cecil County home admitted to engaging the youngster in fondling and sex acts and explained that she did so because “he was curious,” according to a videotape of investigators interviewing her.
Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Burnell played that video for jurors on Thursday, the second day of trial for the defendant, Nicole L. Rodecker, a 33-year-old Rising Sun resident who is facing six counts, including second-degree rape, child sex abuse and second-degree sex offense.
At one point during the videotaped police interview, which occurred earlier this year, Det. Sgt. Steven Juergens of the Maryland State Police asks Rodecker why she was compelled to “fulfill” the purported curiosity of a 9-year-old boy.
Rodecker replies, “I honestly don’t know.” Earlier in the videotaped interview, Rodecker tells investigators that she would ask herself, “Why did I do that?” after engaging in the sex acts with the boy.
The defense, however, maintains that investigators had coerced Rodecker to admit to things that she didn’t do and that the boy had fabricated the molestation.
Rodecker testified Thursday that she felt intimidated during her videotaped police interview and she, as a result, told investigators what she believed they wanted to hear.
In that recorded interview, Rodecker’s inventory of the fondling and sex acts matches the list that the boy gave to MSP investigators and a Cecil County Child Protective Services agent. It also matches the list that the boy, now 12, gave when he testified in the courtroom Wednesday.
But while Rodecker painted the boy as the initiator of the fondling and sex acts – the age of consent for sex in Maryland is 16 – the youngster testified that Rodecker forced him to touch her and engage in sex acts and that whenever he tried to move away, Rodecker would pull him closer.
On the witness stand, the boy used the word “weird” several times to describe how he felt physically and emotionally during those incidents with Rodecker. He also described the sound that Rodecker made when he touched her and how her body felt.
Juergens tells Rodecker in the recorded police interview that the boy provided “details that a 12-year-old wouldn’t know about unless he experienced them.”
The boy testified that Rodecker, a friend of his older sister, started molesting him at some point when he was in third grade – when she was about 29 and he was 8 – and that the sexual abuse grew in frequency and intensity over the next two years. Rodecker had been his babysitter since he was 4, he noted.
Rodecker started by touching his private area about once a week over his clothing, sometimes when he was on the couch watching television, sometimes when she woke him up in the morning or put him to bed at night, according to the boy’s testimony.
She also walked into the bathroom when he was using the toilet and into the bedroom when he was changing, always opening a closed door to do so and always “making up an excuse” when he asked why, he testified.
When he was in the fourth grade, Rodecker started touching him under his clothes and later started making him take off his clothes for the fondling, he said. The molestation occurred “two or three times a week,” he added.
According to the boy’s testimony, the molesting increased to an estimated four times a week when he was in the fifth grade.
He also testified that, during that year, Rodecker started performing a sex act on him, in addition to fondling him and making him touch her naked body. In addition, according to the boy’s testimony, Rodecker forced him into another sex act.
“I didn’t understand what was hap- pening,” the boy testified.
But toward the end of fifth grade, the boy had a class in which he learned about “good touch” and “bad touch” and he started to grasp that he had been victimized, he told jurors.
“It felt weird. It happened to me,” he testified.
Still, he didn’t feel able to tell his parents, teachers or authorities.
“I didn’t know what she (Rodecker) would do,” the boy told jurors. He also testified that Rodecker classified the molestation as a “secret.”
In addition, the boy did not come forward because the subject made him “embarrassed, uncomfortable,” he testified.
(Prosecutors have reported that the molestation stopped by the time the boy reached sixth grade, at some point after Rodecker had learned that he would be taking a sex education class as part of his curriculum.)
The boy told his mother about the molestation in November 2015 and later his father. His parents live apart, with the mother residing in Cecil County and the father in Baltimore County.
He first revealed the molestation around Thanksgiving – two days after Rodecker had informed the family that she no longer would be the babysitter because she “wanted to move on with her life” and quit, the boy recalled on the stand.
“I didn’t care because of all the things she had done to me. I was really kind of happy,” the boy testified when Burnell asked how the news of Rodecker leaving made him feel.
In March, after a joint investigation by MSP and CPS, a Cecil County grand jury handed up the sixcount indictment against Rodecker, who is free on bond.
Rodecker’s Elkton-based defense lawyer, Robert Edmund Surmacz, maintained in his opening statement Wednesday that investigators coerced her confession.
“Any time she tried to deny anything, they would stop (the interrogation) and redirect her,” Surmacz told jurors, proffering that the detectives wore down his client before emphasizing, “She’s saying whatever it takes to get out of that room.”
Also during his opening statement, Surmacz asserted that the boy had fabricated the molestation and that his lie triggered a chainreaction of events that included a police investigation, an indictment and this week’s trial.
“He made up a story and it got to the point where he didn’t know what to do. It got out of hand,” Surmacz told jurors.
Closing arguments are set for Friday morning as the trial in Cecil County Circuit Court winds down. Retired Cecil County Circuit Court Judge O. Robert Lidums is presiding.