Trial nears end in Ce­cil County mo­lesta­tion case

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL & REGIONAL - By CARL HAMIL­TON ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­

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.

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