Child abuse trial commences again

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    By STEPHEN SMITH

    The Arvid Oakley child sexual abuse trial began for the second time at the Utah Fourth District Court Thursday morning.

    Judge Anthony Schofield declared a mistrial on the case last May after two members of the jury discussed the case outside of the courtroom. All jurors had been strictly charged not to discuss the case with the exception of the official jury deliberations, according to court records.

    A second trial had been scheduled by Schofield at that time for Sept. 24 and 25.

    Oakley, 54, was charged with aggravated sexual abuse of a child in June of 1997. According to the testimony of the 4-year-old girl, whom Oakley allegedly abused, Oakley touched and penetrated the child’s genitals with his finger at least once between Dec. 1996 and April 1997. The actions in question took place in the defendant’s Springville home.

    Oakley was running a club for young children out of his home at the time of the allegations, said prosecutors. Neighborhood children frequently visited Oakley’s home to attend the many activities of the club.

    Amanda Cragun, the girls aunt, lived next door to Oakley when the incident was supposed to have occurred and for several years before that time, Cragun said. Cragun also said during the time when the girl was allegedly abused, the girl was living with her mother in Cragun’s home.

    The girl had visited Oakley’s home on several occasions before her mother became aware of possible misdeeds by Oakley, said prosecuting attorney Sherry Regan.

    Ten new jurors, two of which are alternates, were selected Thursday morning to hear the case from 35 possible people. After jury selection, the newly sworn-in jury was charged by Schofield to keep all facts to themselves until jury deliberations take place.

    Schofield reminded the jury they were the “sole trier of facts,” and to keep their minds open as they heard evidence and testimony.

    The jury heard opening arguments from the prosecution and defense teams and the testimony of several witnesses in the afternoon. Evidence included a videotaping of the girl’s testimony in an interview with a child abuse investigator soon after the alleged incident.

    The girl, now almost 6 years old, was called as a witness by the prosecution but left the courtroom in tears before she took the witness stand. Kay Cragun, husband of Amanda, said before she was called as a witness, his niece is “holding up,” but the past few months have been difficult for her.

    Trial proceedings will continue tomorrow. According to the court calendar, the trial will conclude tomorrow. Deliberations may extend the process.

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