How is this for an opening defense in a molestation trial? Attorney Lawrence Volk told the jury his 35-year-old client, David Elifar Verduzco, molested a 12-year-old girl who was taking piano lessons from him at Agape House of Prayer in Anaheim.
But sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl he was babysitting at her Tustin home? No way, Volk maintained. That apparently would be gross.
Verduzco, who was a member of Agape's "worship team," is charged with sexual penetration of a child 10 years or younger, three counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor, all felonies, and two misdemeanor counts each of child annoyance and using a concealed device to record another without their consent.
"The dispute in this case is what happened with Mr. Verduzco and (the 9-year-old girl)," says Volk in Paul Anderson's City News Service report on opening statements. "I ask you to listen to all of the facts leading up to that event. … And remember (the girls) are buddies."
Senior Deputy District Attorney Jana Hoffmann said Verduzco was so close to the younger girl's family that "they used to call him Uncle David. They trusted him."
Babysitting at her Tustin home on Aug. 28, 2011, trusty Uncle David offered the girl money and, when she refused, reached under her nightgown and used his fingers to sexually assault her, Hoffmann alleged. The girl objected, so Verduzco "gives her an angry look, flips her off and on the way out of the room he threatens her not to tell anyone," Hoffman claimed.
The prosecutor also accused Verduzco of having flirted with the 12-year-old girl, kissing her on the cheek and placing his hand on her thigh during her piano lessons. Between January and September of 2011, Verduzco used his foot to slip his cell phone under her skirt and shoot videos as she played, Hoffmann alleged.
The end came when the girl's mother saw her daughter exchanging late night text messages with Verduzco, who allegedly wrote things like "You're beautiful" and "I love you," said Hoffmann, who added the mom then informed the church pastor. After the pastor kicked Verduzco out of the church, another follower alerted the 9-year-old's family, and the girl went on to report the alleged abuse to authorities.
Hoffman claims Verduzco admitted to investigators he sexually assaulted the 9-year-old and was attracted to the 12-year-old. The Orange County District Attorney's office said when the Santa Ana resident was originally charged in 2011 that he faced 60 years to life in state prison with a conviction on all counts.