PATERSON, N.J. – The lawyer for a New Jersey man accused of raping five of his daughters said in his closing argument Monday that the allegations against his client were so outrageous as to be impossible to believe.
The prosecution countered that any argument in the face of DNA evidence that shows the man fathered his own grandchild made "no rational sense."
The two sides summed up their positions at the conclusion of the first of five sex assault trials the man is facing: one for each child he is accused of victimizing. The Associated Press doesn't identify victims of sexual crimes and is not reporting the names of the man or his former wife to protect the identities of their children, who are now over 18.
Defense Attorney Daryl Pennington tried to cast doubt on the credibility of testimony from DNA experts, the man's former wife, and a daughter who said she bore her father's child.
The women testified at trial that the man had told them he was a god and was being commanded to create "pure" family bloodlines. They said he enforced his will with beatings, insisted the children be born at home so they wouldn't be documented, and controlled every aspect of their daily lives, from home schooling them to seeing they maintained a strict vegetarian diet.
The daughter testified in graphic detail to extreme acts of sexual abuses she said her father subjected her to on a regular basis, starting at age 8 and culminating with her becoming pregnant at 14 once she began menstruation.
"It is absolutely, completely, entirely unbelievable that this sort of event took place daily; every single day someone being terrorized, for years, and nobody did anything at all?" Pennington said. "For a decade and a half they endured this kind of brutality and just took it?"
Lisa Squitieri, the Passaic County prosecutor handling the case, argued that prior testimony showed the situation was not a spontaneous act of sudden, horrific violence but a gradual breakdown in the household. She recounted how the wife had testified that her relationship with the man had deteriorated from their meeting at a Paterson high school as love-struck teenagers and escalated into physical arguments that eventually became regular beatings of her and their 9 children and the man's extreme physical and mental control over the family.
"It started with the small stuff, and she (the wife) took the small stuff," Squitieri said. "The question is not whether (the wife) allowed this ... she may have, in a way, been a participant. This case is to show what happened to (the daughter). When she came into this world, she didn't get a vote on whether she got a birth certificate, she didn't get a vote on whether she went to school, she didn't get a vote on having to be her father's sex slave."
Forensics experts testified earlier in the trial that DNA profiles showed the defendant was likely the father of his own grandchild.
Pennington said the testimony of two DNA experts was suspect, pointing out they both were hired by the prosecution. He said one was a sloppy technician who even spelled a name wrong. He also questioned the standards used to compare the DNA and suggested the sample might have been mishandled.
The prosecution showed a chart laying out the forensic experts testimony in color-coded graph form, showing how the DNA profile of the daughter's baby was an exact match to the man's DNA.
The man, who faces 8 sexual assault related charges in the first trial, faces a total of 27 charges for allegedly raping five of his daughters. Three of them are believed to have given birth to a total of six of his children.
The case goes to the jury on Tuesday.