Father resumes testimony at NJ incest trial

AP News
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Posted: Oct 12, 2010 7:17 PM
Father resumes testimony at NJ incest trial

A New Jersey man accused of raping five of his daughters and getting three of them pregnant denied Tuesday that he had ever harmed anyone in his family and spoke about what he said was his extensive research and reading on every aspect of child rearing.

"I was the papa hen, I was the one who was protective of the kids," the man said, testifying for a second day in his own defense at his trial on sexual assault charges.

The man, who was arrested in 2006 and ruled competent to stand trial this year, has pleaded not guilty to 27 charges including sexual assault, lewdness, child endangerment and criminal sexual contact.

He is accused of raping five of his daughters and impregnating three. They are believed to have given birth to a total of six of his children. The Associated Press generally doesn't identify victims of sexual crimes and isn't reporting the name of the man or his former wife to protect the identities of their children, who are now older than 18.

The first of five trials _ one for each child he's accused of victimizing _ is taking place in Paterson, about 10 miles west of New York City.

The daughter at the center of this case says she bore her father a child. She testified earlier that he spoke often of being a prophet sent by God to change the world and that he told her she had to be his sex slave in order to ensure he kept bloodlines pure.

The woman, now 24, testified that her father began severely beating her when she was a toddler, then touching her sexually at age 8, forcing her into regular intercourse by the time she was 12 and impregnating her shortly after she began menstruating.

The man's former wife testified that he frequently beat her and their children, spoke of being a god and having apocalyptic visions and insisted that most of their 9 children be born at home. She said he forbade them from visiting doctors or enrolling in school and severely restricted their diets.

The man sought Tuesday to contradict his former wife's testimony, saying she had been in charge of disciplining the children.

"I never beat my kids in the first place, that was her responsibility," the man said.

"But we heard testimonies, over 4, 5 days of horrific beatings," the man's attorney, Daryl Pennington, said.

"They're all fabricated," the man said.

The man said his former wife was the one who hated hospitals, and that he had enrolled in medical courses and learned midwifery techniques from his grandmother so their children could be safely born at home.

He added that all child rearing decisions, including having their children born 1 1/2 years apart, and deciding on the children's clothing and diets, had been made by both parents.

While describing a brief separation from his wife early on in their relationship, the man veered into an explanation of how the couple eventually sought to keep a polygamous household, in which his former wife had been the "queen mother" and he had various "co-wives" at different points in time.

The man is scheduled to resume testifying Wednesday.