RACINE — The 11-year-old girl cannot talk. She is energetic and loves life, her father testified.
But she needs help going to the bathroom and still functions at the level of a 2- to 4-year-old.
And in 2010 and 2011, while she was a student at Olympia Brown Elementary School, 5915 Erie St., an education assistant was allegedly seen touching her inappropriately on at least three separate occasions.
Now, that former special education assistant, 38-year-old Lewis Givens Jr., is on trial for first-degree sexual assault of a child. She was 9 at the time.
In opening arguments Monday, Robert Repischak, the prosecuting attorney, said even though the girl cannot talk, “I’m going to give her a voice.”
The first incident allegedly occurred Dec. 21, 2010, Repischak said. Givens was in the room with the girl. A teaching assistant saw him reach under her clothes and massage her breast area, he said.
Jan. 6, 2011, Givens was again with the girl. Givens was seen placing his hand between her legs and rubbing her private area, Repischak said. A week later, he was again seen placing his hand between the girl’s legs, Repischak told the jury.
After the incidents were reported to police, state law was changed to require all school employees, not just teachers and administrators, to report incidents of abuse and neglect. In addition, the Racine Unified School District agreed in 2011 to pay $150,000 to the girl’s family in a settlement.
Defense attorney Christy M. Hall told the jury Givens was in special education classes growing up. He worked two jobs most of his life. He married his high school sweetheart, she said.
He was very involved with the community and church, Hall said, and was a pastor at Martin Luther King Church of Christ, 1131 Douglas Ave.
In 2001, a woman told Givens about an education assistant opening at Racine Unified School District and he applied.
Givens had worked at Racine Unified 10 years without any reported incidents prior to the 2011 allegations, Hall said.
He was known as a “big teddy bear,” Hall said. Kids would hug him and sit on his lap, she said.
When he learned about the allegations of sexual assault, Hall said his reaction was: “If I wanted to touch someone, I have a wife at home … Why would I touch a diaper?”
She told the jury, “Use common sense.”
The jury trial is scheduled to resume again 9 a.m. Tuesday in Racine County Circuit Court Branch 7 in the Law Enforcement Center, 717 Wisconsin Ave.