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Trial begins in alleged child-rape case

  • Champion-trial-jpg

    Brian Darling speaks with his client Jacob Champion, who is in court on rape charges of a 17 month- old.

    BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE

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    Farley, a facility dog with the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office, waits in the hallway outside Common Pleas Judge John Miraldi’s court Tuesday.

    BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE

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ELYRIA — The 17-month-old child police said Jacob Champion raped grew distant from Champion in the months prior to the alleged incident taking place, the child’s mother testified Tuesday afternoon.

The trial of Champion, 26, of Lorain, began Tuesday afternoon. Champion faces charges of rape, felonious assault and endangering children in connection with an alleged incident police said took place Aug. 2, 2016.

The mother of the child, whose name is being withheld so as to not identify the child, testified that she realized something had been done to her son when she went to wake him up in the morning and found him “shaking and crying” in his crib. She said the child had blood in his diaper, on the onesie he was wearing and on the sheets in his crib.

She testified that she then took the child to University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center for treatment. The child was then transported to Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland.

The doctor that performed an examination and surgery on the child, Dr. Michael Dingeldein, testified that the child had several bruises and scratches all over his body along with tears in his rectum and anus from some object. Dingeldein said he’d never seen such injuries to a person in his 14 years as a doctor. He also said there was no chance the tears were viral or accidental.

Police believe Champion may have used a small souvenir baseball bat to sodomize the child.

The mother testified that she kicked out Champion, who had lived with her and her two children, from her home immediately after the alleged incident happened. She said when she began dating Champion, he and the child would play, but gradually the child shied away from Champion and eventually wouldn’t allow Champion to touch him.

Champion’s defense attorney, Brian Darling, said the witness statements gathered by police don’t add up. In particular, Darling pointed to statements by the mother in which she stated she didn’t hear any crying during the night of the alleged incident.

“The police keep talking about asking the witnesses if they heard any crying,” Darling said during his opening statement. “There wouldn’t be any crying if something like that would have happened that particular night. There would be a blood-curdling scream from this kid.”

The mother is a co-defendant in the case, and was charged with child endangering. During her testimony, she stated that prosecutors have told her the charges against her will be dismissed if she testifies truthfully.

Darling also stated that he believes police locked in on Champion as the main suspect in the case and “made the evidence around him justify their case for his arrest.”

Darling said that doctors and caregivers of the child missed evidence that the child had been sexually assaulted prior to the Aug. 2 incident. A week earlier, the woman had taken the child to the hospital for having blood in his diaper, but the doctors diagnosed the bleeding as a result of diarrhea.

Champion waived his right to a jury trial on the matter and elected for a bench trial before Judge John Miraldi. Prior to the beginning of the trial, Miraldi granted a motion by prosecutors to allow Farley, a facility dog with the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office, to accompany a minor witness in the trial during her testimony.

Testimony in the trial is set to resume at 9 a.m. today.

Contact Scott Mahoney at (440) 329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.


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