AUBURN – A Nemaha County jury found 36-year-old James Reyes guilty of sexual assault of a child on Friday.
The jury was asked to decide if a 12-year-old girl was telling the truth about what happened to her when she lived in Auburn from 2010 to 2012.
Deputy Nemaha County Attorney Angelo Ligouri said Reyes used his authority to keep the girl quiet as long as she lived in Nebraska, but said she confided with her sister about what was happening when they moved to Texas.
Ligouri: “Continue to harm her, just as he has always done.”
Defense Attorney Keith Kollasch told the jury that the girl suffers from depression, anxiety and hallucinations. He said the allegations surfaced only after the girl’s mother suggested it.
Kollasch: “She did a good job as far as explaining what she believed happened, but I think there’s a possibility that she is … she really thinks this happened, even if it didn’t, just because of the way the story has grown and developed.”
He said the girl was seeing mental health professionals and had a history of cutting herself and suicidal thoughts. He said she was in a fragile mental state when her mother planted the idea of sexual assault in her mind.
Kollasch said even after her deposition, reports of sexual assault escalated. He said one of the accounts includes numerous attackers.
Ligouri said the girl’s fragile mental condition was caused by years of sexual abuse and persistent reminders that her family could be hurt if she told anyone. The girl testified that she thought a car accident was Reyes’ proof that he could carry out his threats against her family.
Ligouri said Reyes chose his victim carefully because “she was supposed to be the weakest one,” but said he did not count on her being strong enough to come and testify.
Ligouri: “It’s a 100 percent secret crime and that’s why he thinks he can get away it.”
Reyes testified on Thursday that he did not sexually assault the girl. He said he was busy working as a security guard at Cooper Nuclear Station and later with the Nebraska Department of Corrections.
Reyes: “I believe something has happened to her. What? I don’t know.”
Another guard testified Friday that Reyes had a reputation of truthfulness.
A school administrator also testified that the alleged victim is truthful.
Sentencing is scheduled Aug. 12.