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Sexual assault trial begins

November 19, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A man charged with raping a 12-year-old girl, a 15-year-old girl and a woman in her 20s listened to calm testimony from each of the women Tuesday during the first day of his trial.

Jason Lee Caton, 23, of Martinsburg, faces two counts of second-degree sexual assault in connection with the rape of the 15-year-old, who now is 17 and a senior at a Berkeley County, W.Va., high school.

The Herald-Mail is not publishing the names of the young women in accordance with its policy of not identifying victims of sex crimes.

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Caton faces additional, separate charges in connection with the other two victims.

The alleged rape of the 15-year-old happened on Feb. 5, 2002, as she walked along Cemetery Road after arguing with her parents. During her testimony, the girl, a petite blonde, said a man pulled up next to her twice in a Mitsubishi Eclipse and asked if she needed a ride.

When she declined, he continued driving both times, she said.

A few minutes later, she said, she turned around and saw the man walking with her. He again started talking to her. When the girl told the man she was walking to meet a girlfriend, he said he would walk with her to make sure nothing happened to her, she testified.

After asking the girl whether she had a boyfriend, the man grabbed her and dragged her into a partially wooded spot a few feet off the road, she said. There, he forced her to the ground, performed oral sex on her and then raped her, the girl testified.

Although the girl took a kitchen knife with her for protection, when she tried to use it, the man grabbed it and threw it away, she testified.

After assaulting her, the man removed one of the batteries from the girl's cell phone and again offered her a ride, she testified. She ran away instead.

At school the next day, the girl reported the rape to a guidance counselor. The counselor called the girl's mother, who took her daughter to City Hospital, according to testimony from the girl's mother.

Sherry Porter, a registered nurse at City Hospital's emergency room, testified that she examined the girl, who had abrasions in her genital area.

During his cross-examination of the girl, Caton's attorney, public defender William DeHaven, asked the teen whether it was possible she exaggerated her injuries to avoid getting in trouble for sneaking out of her parents' house that night.

"I wouldn't have exaggerated something like this," she replied.

The second victim to testify was 12 at the time of an Aug. 30, 2001, assault. Now 15, she also is a petite blonde.

She testified that she rode the bus to her Berkeley County middle school that day, but then left. She said she wanted to walk to her aunt's house in Sharpsburg.

As she walked toward Shepherdstown, W.Va., on W.Va. 45, a green Mitsubishi Eclipse, with a man and a woman inside, pulled over, she said. The girl said she accepted a ride and the three went to the man's apartment. There, the man argued with the woman and left her. The girl testified that she got back into the man's car after he promised to take her to her aunt's home.

Instead, the man pulled onto Blairton Road and parked his car beside a bridge. They smoked marijuana and listened to music, she testified.

After saying he wanted to check on his marijuana plants, the man walked into a nearby wooded area. He returned and became more aggressive, the girl said.

When the girl refused his advances, the man pulled a knife and held it under the girl's chin before raping her, she said. She testified that she told the man she was only 12 and that her father raped her. The man responded by apologizing and telling her that she should report her father's actions to police. He then drove her to her aunt's house, the girl said.

Last to testify was a woman, now 23, who alleged that a man forced her to perform sexual acts on him on April 20, 2002, after he offered her a ride home.

The woman said she reluctantly accepted the 4:30 a.m. ride because she was tired after working nearly an entire day. Instead of taking her home, the man drove her to a spot off W.Va. 45. The woman's description of the site matched that of the youngest girl.

The woman said that after the man became aggressive, she picked up a glass bottle of tea that she had just purchased and hit him in the head with it, causing the bottle to shatter.

After screaming that he was sorry, the man told the woman he would take her home, she said. Instead, he drove to Shepherdstown and parked by the Potomac River. There he made the woman show him her chest and genital area, she said.

He promised to take her home if she performed oral sex on him, so she did, the woman testified.

Before dropping her off near her apartment, he offered the woman an ounce of marijuana a week if she promised not to report the incident to police, she testified.

When the woman told the man she'd been raped as a child, he responded that he would carry a gun for protection if something like that had happened to him, she testified.

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