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Teen denied shift to juvenile court in molesting case

by John Lynch | August 6, 2015 at 3:04 a.m.

An 18-year-old Little Rock man accused of molesting a 10-year-old girl must stand trial as an adult, a Pulaski County circuit judge ruled Wednesday after hearing that few counseling services exist for sex offenders the defendant's age.


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Charged with second-degree sexual assault, Malik Juwan Gilliam was 17 in February when the girl accused him of molesting her at her grandmother's house.

He was arrested in March, 12 days before he turned 18, and was formally charged in April. He is scheduled to stand trial in October. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

His attorney, Lou Marczuk, had petitioned Pulaski County Circuit Judge Leon Johnson to have the case transferred to juvenile court where the teen could be eligible for specialized sex-offender counseling programs.

But testimony at Wednesday's two-hour hearing indicated that Gilliam is too old to qualify for most of the available programs.

There's no guarantee he would be eligible for any of them, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors also pointed out that Gilliam would only be under a juvenile court's authority until he turns 21, and that just adjudicating his case, required before he could be placed in a program, could take six months to a year unless Gilliam's lawyer would agree to legal concessions that might open the defendant to further prosecution.

Gilliam, who is free on $50,000 bond, did not testify, but his accuser spent 30 minutes on the witness stand describing for the judge what she said Gilliam had done to her.

Wearing a blue T-shirt, navy shorts and black tennis shoes with neon green socks, the girl testified in a childlike sing-song voice, sometimes twisting her braided hair or rubbing it against her cheek and mouth as she answered questions from the lawyers.

She had to pause a couple of times to tie her shoes, which seemed to be coming off as she swung her feet while sitting on the stand.

Questioned by deputy prosecutor Robbie Jones, the sixth-grader testified that she was running an errand for her grandmother, who was away at the store, when she encountered Gilliam at the house.

A song came on the radio and Gilliam asked her to "twerk" dance for him, she said, describing the dance as "to shake my bottom for him."

"He started thumping his private part on my behind," she said.

She testified that she walked away from him, but that he grabbed her and pulled her pants down.

She said he touched her "private part" and kissed on her body.

She tried to climb over a couch to get away from him, she said, but he grabbed her ankle and pulled her back to him.

She testified that he also forced her to touch him intimately.

Before leaving, he told her to tell people that they had watched a SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon, she testified.

The girl said she told a school counselor the following day about what had happened. The counselor made her write out a statement and told her mother, she testified.

Questioned by defense attorney Marczuk about what she understood "twerk" to mean, the girl said it was a dance she had seen other girls do at school and at parties.

"It means when they put their hands on their knees ... and pop their bottoms," she said. "They just shake their bottoms ... up and down."

Also testifying was Drew Evans, who investigated the girl's accusations for the Pulaski County sheriff's office. He said law enforcement learned about the girl's accusations when the counselor called the state's child-abuse hotline, which led to deputies initiating an investigation.

Evans said Gilliam was cooperative when he was arrested at Wilbur Mills High School, giving deputies his version of events.

Gilliam admitted to being alone with the girl on the day in question and that he had gotten her to "twerk" with him to a song on the radio, Evans said.

Gilliam described the dance as the girl rubbing her buttocks against his crotch while both were fully clothed, the investigator said.

Gilliam denied any sexual or improper contact with her, Evans said.

Testifying on Gilliam's behalf was his mother, Kimberly Gilliam, who told the judge the teen is the oldest of her three children, which include daughters ages 9 and 5.

She said he's a gifted basketball player who spends most of his spare time practicing and playing the sport. He hopes to get a scholarship, play ball in college and "take it as far as he can," she said.

He's a "typical teenager," a regular churchgoer and has a relationship with his father, Leo Gilliam, that has improved as her son has gotten older, she said.

"We have a normal mother-son relationship," she said.

His grandmother and Kimberly Gilliam's mother, Sharon Hair, testified that the teen has had a "sheltered" life, partly due to her being strict with him and partly because of the time he has spent playing basketball.

She said she regretted not letting him socialize more, telling the judge that the teen was very respectful of his elders.

Metro on 08/06/2015

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