After deliberating for eight hours a Delaware County jury convicted a Grove man of raping a child.
Darwin Todd Huddleston, 22, of Grove was convicted on Oct. 3 in Delaware County District Court in Jay with first-degree rape by instrumentation and acquitted of lewd exhibition.
During cross-examination by prosecutor Nick Lelecas, Huddleston was seen to wink at his girlfriend and smile.
Lelecas asked him if he thought the proceedings were funny and why was he winking at his girlfriend.
“I love her,” Huddleston said while on the stand.
The victim, who is now a teenager, was 9-years-old when the sexual assaults began and lasted for several years, according to trial testimony.
Huddleston confessed to the victim’s father saying he assaulted the victim “because he was overweight and could never get a girlfriend,” as a means of justifying his actions, according to the arrest affidavit.
After talking to Huddleston, the victim’s father said, “I was so sick I vomited several times,” according to trial testimony and court documents.
The major point of disagreement during the trial was Huddleston’s confession.
Huddleston’s lawyer, Gina Cowley, called only one witness to the stand – Huddleston.
Cowley told the jury there was no confession.
Huddleston admitted he and the victim’s father had the phone call about the assault but denied any confession.
During closing statements, Lelecas pointed to Huddleston and referred to his politeness, wearing his glasses, always saying “yes sir” and “no sir” when he questioned him.
“You can put lipstick on a pig – but it’s still a pig,” Lelecas told the jury.
"Sexual abuse cases are always hard to prosecute, even more so when the victim is a minor," said Christy Wright, who was appointed by the court to represent the victim during the trial.
There is rarely physical evidence, she said.
"Testifying in court and facing the perpetrator is difficult for any victim," Wright said. "I hope the courage displayed by this victim in coming forward inspires more survivors of sexual abuse to disclose (sexual assaults)."
The 7-man and 5-woman jury recommended Huddleston serve five years in prison on the rape charge. Huddleston was taken into custody, but not before hugging his family members and girlfriend.
Huddleston, who attends the University of Oklahoma, will be formally sentenced on December 6.