Former police chief testifies in officer rape case

Published 10:29 pm Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Prosecutors played more taped interviews in the third day of a former police officer’s trial for raping a child.
According to prosecutors, four years after Willie Toney was accused of the sex crimes against a child under the age of 12, he voluntarily submitted to an interview with the Alabama Bureau of Investigations. Toney is charged with one count of rape first degree and two counts each of sodomy first degree and enticing a child to enter a vehicle, house, etc. for immoral purposes in conjunction with a pair of incidents that took place in early 2008. He was formally charged in August 2012.
It was the tape of that interview, conducted in 2012, that jurors heard on Wednesday in Pike County Circuit Court.
In the tape, Toney is told that medical examinations determined the young girl had been sexually abused. When Toney failed to provide answers, investigators asked why he had never sought to find out who would have committed the crime. They also asked why the child would lie.
“If I don’t have an answer, does that make me guilty?” Toney said on the tape. “I don’t have a thing to give you other than my word. I’m saying I didn’t do it.”
Toney professed his innocence from the beginning to end of the interview.
Prosecutor Kelly Hawkins called one of the interrogators, ABI Agent David McGowan, to the stand. He said the victim’s second interview focused on finding other possible suspects. The child was given every opportunity to name someone else and did not.
“I honestly believe that she held back information that might’ve been useful,” he said.
Defense Attorney Grady Reeves’ cross-examination of McGowan focused on the timeline of the alleged first incident of sexual abuse, asking if McGowan had verified the victim’s timeline.
McGowan said it was hard tie anyone down to a specific time, especially a child. He also said most of the events of that day were not disputed by Toney. “He didn’t dispute anything other than the sexual act,” McGowan said.
The prosecution rested after McGowan’s testimony. The defense asked Judge Thomas Head to dismiss the case because “there isn’t any evidence that there’s been any forcible sexual intercourse.”
Head reminded the defense that force was not needed for it to be considered a crime.
The defense also argued that there was “no credible evidence that the act had taken place” and “no credible evidence that the defendant had sexual contact with the witness.”
The prosecution argued that credibility and medical evidence was for the jury to decide. Head agreed and the defense called its first witness, Troy’s former Chief of Police Anthony Everage.
According to his testimony, Everage learned of the accusations the night they were made in 2008. He met Toney at school where Toney had been a resource officer and told not to have contact with the victim or her family. Toney also was placed on administrative leave.
Toney returned from leave April 10, after Everage, then-Mayor Jimmy Lunsford and the district attorney had reviewed the victim’s interviews conducted at the Child Advocacy Center.
Everage said Toney was placed on administrative leave again in 2009, when the chief learned the ABI was conducting an investigation.
Everage also said he conducted an internal investigation that June. When asked why it took so long for him to investigate the case, Everage said he did not want to do anything that would appear to interfere with the ABI investigation.
“The first thing we did was review the interviews at the Child Advocacy Center,” he said. “We looked at things, particular places, times, events that happened that day that we could go back and verify what was being said.”
Troy police investigators looked at telephone, television, department records, travel records and school records. Because the victim had said she had watched “Hannah Montana” before the first rape, Everage’s investigators contacted a social science instructor at Troy University and had him verify when the show would have aired in Troy to see if the airing meshed with the victim’s reported timeline.
Everage said Toney was reinstated at the end of the investigation, and all the records were turned over to the ABI. Toney had been on paid administrative leave for 15 months.
The trial continues today with additional witnesses from the defense.

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