MUSKOGEE — Federal prosecutors rested their case Thursday in the retrial of Jimcy McGirt after a woman testified earlier in the day how he allegedly sexually molested her in 1996 at a Broken Arrow home when she was 4 years old.
The woman, who is now 28, testified that she couldn’t recall most of what occurred when she was with McGirt, who watched the child while his wife, who was also and the child’s grandmother, was at work.
“I just remember he would come in from mowing and do stuff to me,” the woman testified, saying she recalled the couch where the alleged abuse occurred was blue.
Thursday was the second day of McGirt’s child sex abuse trial being held in Muskogee federal court.
The 72-year-old is being retried, this time in federal court, after a landmark Supreme Court decision that overturned his child sex abuse conviction and life without parole sentence on jurisdictional grounds.
The Supreme Court agreed with an appellate court ruling that determined McGirt should have been tried in federal court in 1997 rather than state court because Congress never disestablished the 1860s-era boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation. The historic boundary is an 11-county footprint that includes much of the city of Tulsa and Broken Arrow.
The ruling meant major crimes that involve an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe and that occurred within the historic Creek Nation boundaries are federal jurisdiction.
Both McGirt and the alleged victim are members of the Seminole Tribe and the alleged crimes occurred within the historic Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation boundaries.
The ruling has caused dozens of inmates others to challenge their state convictions on similar jurisdictional grounds.
Meanwhile, the alleged victim testified that she had difficulties recalling many events during the summer of 1996.
“I just remember him touching me down there,” the woman said, audibly breathing heavy and grimacing. “I don’t remember full details.”
She said she also recalled him orally molesting her on a couch and making her touch his penis when the two were in a pickup at the home where she was staying with McGirt and her grandmother while her mother was out of town.
The woman testified that McGirt told her afterwards that he would “get in trouble” and her grandmother wouldn’t love her if she told anyone what happened.
The woman said she has been unable to forget the molestation despite her efforts over the years since.
“Because I can still see the stuff in my head,” the woman said, breaking down and weeping.
Under cross-examination, Joe White, one of McGirt’s attorneys, pointed out that the alleged victim gave sometimes conflicting testimony during a preliminary hearing and trial on the matter in 1997.
The differing testimony dealt with comments she made about another man possibly touching her inappropriately and whether family or doctors coached her in what to say about the incident.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah McAmis, on re-direct examination, asked the woman how she remembered “being violated” by McGirt if she couldn’t recall other events from the time.
“Because I have the memories of what happened,” the woman said.
The child’s mother testified later Thursday that after she returned from her trip, her daughter acted differently.
“She just wasn’t a happy kid anymore,” the mother said.
Sometime later, the mother said her daughter confided in her by telling her that she “had a secret.”
The mother said she took her daughter to a hospital clinic to be examined. She also took her to a counseling center and filed a report with the Wagoner County Sheriff Office.
A Wagoner County jury convicted McGirt in 1997 on three sex abuse counts.
The mother of the child said in around 2000, she discovered a letter she believed to be written and sent by McGirt while he was in prison serving a no-parole life sentence and two 500-year sentences.
In the letter sent to his wife at the time, who was the child’s grandmother, the mother said McGirt said appeared by be confessing by claiming “the devil made him do it.”
The child’s grandmother, the last of four witnesses to testify for the prosecution, said while she stood by McGirt during his 1997 trial, she later divorced him after receiving the letter in which he blamed the devil for his actions.
The grandmother testified that her son removed the dresser a couple years ago that contained the letter, along with all of her belongings from her house without her permission.
She said she didn’t know where the letter was now.
The trial is scheduled to resume Friday.
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