February 4, 2009
By Tim Pratt
Dispatch Starkville Bureau
STARKVILLE -- The state continued to call witnesses this morning in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court as a Mississippi Highway Patrol officer stood trial for allegedly fondling a teenage boy.
Richard "Dane" Davenport, of Vicksburg, sat through jury selection and opening arguments on Monday, and on Tuesday watched as four witnesses for the state, including his 15-year-old accuser, recalled the controversial 2007 incident and subsequent investigation. After the state calls its remaining witnesses, the defense will bring its own cast to the witness stand.
The accuser on Tuesday testified Davenport touched him "inappropriately" on the morning of Sept. 23, 2007, at a hotel in Starkville, but he was not sure of the name of the hotel. Both Davenport and the teen were in the city for a Mississippi State University football game, though the alleged misconduct took place the morning after the game.
"That touch, was it a sexual touch?" prosecutor Brandon Ogburn asked the accuser.
"Without a doubt," the teen replied. "Yes, sir."
The boy''s mother also testified Tuesday and said she walked in on Davenport and her son while the incident was taking place. She and Davenport were sharing a hotel room while her son was in the room next door.
The woman testified she had just exited the shower the morning of Sept. 23, 2007, and walked toward a door between her room and her son''s room. When the woman got to the door and looked into the next room, she testified Tuesday she saw Davenport on top of her son with his hand moving in and out of the teen''s boxer shorts.
"I was just in shock," she testified Tuesday. "I didn''t know what to do. I didn''t know what to think."
Both the accuser and his mother testified Davenport jumped up in surprise when he noticed the woman at the door. Davenport''s defense has claimed the pair were "just wrestling around."
The accuser, however, testified Tuesday that Davenport warned him not to tell anyone about the fondling "or else people will think you''re gay."
Although the teen''s mother saw Davenport on top of her son, she still wasn''t certain of what exactly took place.
The accuser said he told his mother a week later what she already suspected -- Davenport was touching him inappropriately. On Tuesday, the accuser recalled an additional incident from 2003 when he says he was molested by Davenport in the man''s vehicle.
In all, Davenport has faced four counts of sexual battery and five counts of fondling in Warren County, which is outside of Vicksburg, related to his conduct with the accuser and his older brother. Davenport already had a mistrial in Warren County on the sexual battery and fondling counts when a jury couldn''t reach a verdict, but another trial is scheduled for later this year.
Davenport also had a mistrial in Oktibbeha County in October for the same fondling count he now faces. In the October mistrial, the 15-year-old accuser gave statements which Judge Jim Kitchens had previously ruled inadmissible. The retrial continued this morning at 8:30 a.m.
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