Parents of an alleged victim of sexual abuse — at the hands of her chess instructor — tearfully testified Tuesday as a jury trial began in Delaware County Common Pleas Court.
Freddy Leon Wilson, 62, of 2785 Castlewood Road, Columbus, is facing three counts of gross sexual imposition, which are third-degree felonies, after prosecutors say he inappropriately touched two female students during chess lessons.
Parents of one girl — who was 4 years old at the time of the incident, and is now age 5 — were the first witnesses called by prosecutors Tuesday after a jury was selected.
The father testified that he signed up his daughter for Wilson’s chess class at the Prep Academy School’s Polaris campus because he played chess when he was younger and several of his daughter’s classmates were in the class as well. The father testified that his daughter was a preschool student at the Polaris campus and that Wilson was a contractor who taught chess after school. Wilson is no longer employed there.
The father became emotional as his testimony went on and he told the jury about the night of April 9, 2015, when he sat down to play chess with his daughter.
“She said her teacher put his hand on her lap” the man told the jury. He said he asked his daughter why he did that and she told him “[Wilson] said it feels good.”
The father then told the jury that he tried to remain calm and asked his wife to come over and listen to what his daughter had said. The mother testified that the girl said Wilson put his hand in between her legs and rubbed her vagina.
The father and mother testified that they put on a movie for their daughter in another room and, after a discussion, called police. Deputies from the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office came to their home and told them to go to Nationwide Children’s Hospital as soon as possible so a specialist could speak to their daughter.
The father and mother testified they took their daughter the next morning and she was evaluated by specialists at the Child Assessment Center.
Prosecuting attorney Mark Sleeper said during his opening statements Tuesday morning that Detective Jason Campbell, an investigator at the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, arrested Wilson when he returned from a chess tournament in Greece on April 23, 2015.
Sleeper said the second victim in the case came forward after her family saw a news report about Wilson’s arrest.
During his opening statements, one of Wilson’s defense attorneys, Brian Koffel, said “there’s no charge easier to cast but harder to disprove” than gross sexual imposition. He said accusations of gross sexual imposition are “a train that doesn’t stop until a jury trial.”
Koffel said there was no DNA evidence in the case and no digital evidence found on electronics belonging to Wilson that proves he had a “bizarre” interest in 4- or 7-year-olds.
“[This case] is all about the word of a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old,” Koffel told the jury.
The case is scheduled to continue through Thursday and the 7-year-old victim is expected to testify today.
The jury is comprised of six women and six men.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.