Johnston rape case goes to jury

A prior sex offender is charged in the sexual abuse of a girl, 12. He denies the accusations

Staff WriterDecember 2, 2005 

A jury slipped behind closed doors Thursday afternoon to decide whether William Caufman, a convicted sex offender, raped and sexually abused a 12-year-old Wake County girl last winter.

After nearly two hours, the jury had not reached a verdict on the seven counts of sexual abuse against a minor. They were expected to continue deliberations today.

Prosectors say Caufman, 40, abused at least five other children besides the girl in this case. One of those victims, now a teenager, testified this week.

It is the policy of The News & Observer not to identify victims of sexual violence.

Caufman, a Monster Truck mechanic, swears he didn't abuse the girl. A Johnston County sheriff's detective, however, said Caufman admitted in an interview this spring that he fondled the girl at her urging.

Caufman could spend the rest of his life in prison if he's convicted.

Caufman started dating the girl's mother shortly after the child's father died of cancer. A neighbor finally believed the little girl's stories and called the police in March. The child hugged a stuffed bunny rabbit as she whispered details of the abuse into a microphone Tuesday morning in Johnston County Superior Court.

In closing arguments Thursday morning, Elisabeth Dresel, Johnston County assistant district attorney, urged the jury to believe the girl's story.

"What does [the girl] have to gain?" Dresel told jurors. "Nothing. There are no rewards, no benefits. She lost her privacy, her dignity, her safety, her only remaining parent." The girl's mother has sided with Caufman.

Caufman's attorney, Craig James, said there are too many inconsistencies in the girl's statements to social workers, doctors and police. "The state does not have the right to give you part of the puzzle and have you assume what the rest of the puzzle looks like," James argued in his final remarks.

Staff writer Mandy Locke can be reached at 829-8927 or

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