Opening arguments in the trial of a man accused of sexually assaulting his two stepdaughters got under way Monday in the 266th Judicial District Court.
Michael Reyes is charged with indecency with a child and aggravated sexual assault.
The victims, both of whom have been removed from the home they shared with their mother, Jessica Reyes, and their stepfather, now live near Austin. The sisters both testified Monday that their stepfather molested them over the course of several years.
The older victim, now 15, said Reyes started molesting her when she was in the third grade, and that he had intercourse with her on at least three different occasions. She said she also witnessed Reyes molesting her younger sister one night on the couch.
When Assistant District Attorney Jason Cashon asked what she did after realizing her sister was being molested, she told him that she screamed at him to get off her, saying Reyes then acted “like nothing ever happened.”
“He just went to the kitchen to get a drink,” she said.
The younger sister, now 13, said the incident on the couch was not the first time her stepfather had touched her inappropriately, but that it had happened “many times.”
She said the molestation would occur when Reyes tried to “wrestle” with her.
Both girls said they did not tell their mother because they were afraid she wouldn’t believe them.
Authorities got involved in the case after the youngest victim told a school counselor what her stepfather was allegedly doing.
The girls were both taken to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, where they were examined for sexual abuse. Donna Wright, who works with a child advocacy team at Cook, said she interviewed and examined the girls, but found no trauma to the genital area.
She said the findings were not inconsistent with the girls’ story because the tissue in the genitalia “heals very quickly.”
Reyes’ attorney, Landon Northcutt, told the jury the girls made up the allegations because they didn’t like their stepfather’s strict rules.
“They just want to get rid of him and get him out of their lives so they can do what they want,” Northcutt told the jury during opening arguments.
The trial will resume at 9 a.m. today.
Sara Vanden Berge covers courts, law enforcement, and business and political issues for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com. Her work number is 968-2379, ext. 240.