HomeTop StoriesProsecutors seek video testimony from girl in kidnapping, sexual assault trial

Prosecutors seek video testimony from girl in kidnapping, sexual assault trial

WILKES-BARRE – A clinical psychologist believes that a teenage girl who authorities say was abducted and sexually assaulted for three days should testify in alternative ways to avoid emotional distress if she is forced to testify at the in front of her two alleged attackers.

But lawyers for John Vincent Watson, 47, and William Smiley, 51, argued they should have the right to personally confront the teenage girl.

Watson and Smiley were charged by Luzerne County detectives and the Plains Township Police Department after the girl alleged she was held against her will for several days while she was sexually assaulted in October 2021, according to the court.

The girl was taken by Watson to the Red Roof Inn in Plains Township, where she found the motel room phone and called 911 on Oct. 25, 2021, the court said.

District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce and Assistant District Attorney Shana Messinger filed a motion to allow the girl to testify alternatively, as Dr. Stephen Timchak determined that she would suffer severe emotional distress that would affect her ability to testify against Watson and Smiley.

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Sanguedolce said the girl would testify via video.

Watson’s attorney, Max C. Lubin, is seeking his own medical evaluation of the girl by his expert psychologist or psychiatrist, as he believes the girl showed no signs of emotional distress while interacting with Watson.

Lubin said Watson has the right to face-to-face confrontation with all witnesses, including the girl, who testifies against him.

Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky Jr. said he will issue a ruling at a later date.

Watson remains in jail for lack of $500,000 bail on charges of statutory assault, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, rape, assault, false imprisonment, underage corruption, indecent exposure and terrorist threats.

Smiley, who is represented by attorney John Pike and released on $275,000 bail, faces charges of statutory assault, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, assault and corruption of minors.

A combined trial for Watson and Smiley is scheduled for the week of September 25 before Sklarosky.

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