By Tony Hanson and Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Trial began today for a 21-year-old woman charged with kidnapping a five-year-old girl from a West Philadelphia school and then sexually assaulting her.
The jury was sworn in, then defendant Christina Regusters stood before the jury and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Opening statements followed. Prosecutor Erin O’Brien told the jury this case is about “nightmares that come true, monsters that do exist.”
O’Brien says the little girl who was blindfolded and threatened was told a large talking bird would peck her eyes out. According to O’Brien, the defendant also told the little victim a man was actually committing the sexual assaults against the girl.
Prosecutors say the little girl was then abandoned on a Upper Darby playground where she was found crying, shivering and wearing only a T-shirt.
But defense attorney Fred Harrison Jr. said the descriptions of the kidnapper don’t match Regusters, and he suggests this is a case of mistaken identity. Suspicion, he says, is not enough to convict.
Harrison told jurors the trial that is expected to last two to three weeks is, in his words, a “long journey” and they should wait to hear all the evidence before making a decision. He also revealed the suspect herself was a victim of sexual assault.
Finally, there was testimony from a school district employee that identifications were not checked at the entrance to the school.
Attorney Tom Kline, who represents the little girl and her family in a civil lawsuit accusing the district of lax security, called the lack of demand for identification “unfathomable.”
The school district, citing pending litigation, declined comment.
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