This post has been updated.
A woman identified as Witness 9, whose statements to officials were released by prosecutors in the case of George Zimmerman today, alleged that the former neighborhood watch captain, who faces second degree murder charges in the killing of Trayvon Martin, had unwanted sexual contact with her when the two were children.
The woman is a relative, two years younger than Zimmerman, theGrio sources who have spoken with the woman indicate. She alleged that the abuse began when she was six years old and continued until approximately age sixteen. She told state attorney’s investigators Jim Rick and Jim Post, on March 20th, that the abuse began when she and her family were staying with the Zimmermans after moving from Louisiana, presumably to Manassas, Virginia, where Zimmerman and his family lived prior to moving to Lake Mary, Florida.
“We would watch movies in front of the TV and we would all lay in front of the TV and we would have pillows and blankets he would reach under the blankets and try to do things,” the woman told the investigators. “I would try to push him a off but he was bigger and stronger and older, it was in front of everybody. I don’t know how I didn’t say anything but I just didn’t know any better.”
“He would put his hands under my pants under my under wear and basically just finger me,” she said. When the detective asked if Zimmerman put his finger inside her she responded, “yes.” The woman said Zimmerman would tell her that if she was questioned about the incidents, she should say “we weren’t doing anything, we were just laying down or e were just playing hide and seek. He would always make sure that he would tell me that and I didn’t know. I was a kid I didn’t know any better.”
The woman said that after one incident, she told her sister and other family members that the two were “just laying down,” but that in doing so she thought she was telling her family about the abuse. “They just ignored it and I went to sleep crying,” she said.
The woman, who sounded near tears during parts of the interview, recalled later incidents, including Zimmerman asking her to “rub his penis” because he needed to have surgery, when she was 12 years old, unwanted kissing and other sexual activity in her later teen years. The woman alleged that family members did nothing to stop the abuse, even after they became aware of it.
“He told me he had that to have surgery on his penis, because it had been pinching him and he couldn’t pee[,] he made me see it and see the scars,” she said.
Detectives asked if Zimmerman asked her to do anything to his penis. She replied “just rub it.”
When the detective asked if Zimmerman put his finger inside her she responded, “Yes.” She went on to detail incidents of unwanted “kissing and groping” during subsequent visits to the Zimmermans’ home.
Zimmerman’s lawyers have fought hardest to keep out of the public, but a judge ordered them released Monday.
According to multiple sources who spoke to theGrio on condition of anonymity, the woman felt that she was forbidden by her family to talk about it, but that after the Martin shooting, she told least two people in Sanford. One of the people she confided in was told that the woman felt guilty about not coming forward sooner, believing that if she had, Zimmerman might not have been “free to kill Trayvon Martin.”
The woman told the investigators she knows of another alleged victim, but that the other woman would never come forward, and would deny the allegations if asked. She said that as a teenager, Zimmerman would ask why she liked her boyfriend at the time, and not him.
She said that when she was 16, the Zimmermans moved to Lake Mary, and George invited her to see their house.
“By the time he moved down here I was old enough and I knew that stuff wasn’t normal and I’d always felt like it wasn’t but I’d had enough, and I was scared of what else was going to happen and when he moved down here and had his bedroom all set up. He told me people that were coming to come by to see the house and I had never seen the house,” she said. “I’m one of those people who I wanted to believe people were good, and that they could change. I just wanted it to stop and I didn’t want to tell anyone.” The woman said she fled the house after Zimmerman attempted to give her a “massage” and told her to lay down on his bed.
She said Zimmerman was “intimidating” to her, and that her parents were “in shock” after her sister told them in 2005, after the witness told her sister about the incidents, and the sister allegedly informed their father. She said her father “wanted to go get” Zimmerman, but that her mother doubted that anything would come of pressing charges. She claimed that Zimmerman’s parents “knew” and that “instead of saying sorry, or talking to me about it, they just brushed it under the rug.” She said she never told anyone the details about what happened.
Asked why she came forward now, the woman said “this is the first time in my life I’m not afraid of him.”
“He can’t get to me,” she said. “I know that if I saw him on the street, or I saw him anywhere, I would breakdown in tears … but with everything going on I know he’s not going to be out in public. I won’t go to Target and see him anymore. I’m not afraid of him now.”
The allegations made by the young woman, who theGrio will not name to protect her privacy, cannot be independently corroborated, since she never pressed charges against Zimmerman. O’Mara and his firm declined to comment for this story.
Ben Crump, an attorney for the Martin family, meanwhile, said Witness 9’s allegations are relevant, relating them to the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse trial.
“As the State Attorney previously stated, she certainly would be a rebuttal witness very similar to that in the Sandusky trial showing that he has a history of violence and manipulation,” Crump said. “Zimmerman’s mentality is very relevant to this trial.”
UPDATE: Zimmerman’s lawyer posted a response to the Witness 9 revelations Monday on the GZLegalCase website, including specifying the familial relationship between Zimmerman and his accuser:
In her statements, Witness #9, who is George Zimmerman’s cousin, alleges that Mr. Zimmerman inappropriately touched her beginning when she was 6 and Mr. Zimmerman was almost 8, and that it continued on occasion until she was 16 and Mr. Zimmerman was 17.
The defense moved to block the public release of Witness #9’s statement in a motion filed on June 18, 2012 contending “The content of this statement is not relevant to the issues of this case, and it would not be admissible in the State’s case in chief.” The motion further contends that this irrelevant statement should be withheld from public dissemination because of the substantial risk that public disclosure will lead to widespread hostile publicity which would substantially impair the Defendant’s fair trial rights, and would pose a serious threat to the administration of justice.
That request was denied on July 13, 2012 by Judge Lester. Because there is a Motion for Disqualification pending, this morning, we asked the prosecution not to release Witness #9’s statement until there was a ruling on the Motion for Disqualification. This is an appropriate request as, should the motion for disqualification be granted, reconsideration of recent rulings by the judge is appropriate. However, the prosecution elected to make the public disclosure anyway.
Now that this statement is part of the public record, the defense will vigorously defend Mr. Zimmerman against the allegations. In the next several weeks, there will be reciprocal discovery filed regarding Witness #9’s statement.
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