Trial begins for accused child molester
The jury trial of a man accused of molesting two young girls started yesterday (Tuesday) in Harrison Superior Court.
A jury of six men and six women heard testimony from two witnesses yesterday in the trial against Leo John Conley, who was charged with 19 counts of Class A felony child molesting and one charge of Class C felony child molesting in 2012. Conley, of Rhodelia, Ky., formerly lived in Harrison County where the alleged acts took place against two girls during a period of seven years.
Pending the weather, the trial was to continue today and last through the week and perhaps into the start of next week.
The first witness called to testify was Theresa Kerberg, who has been an assessment worker with the Harrison County Dept. of Child Services for more than 10 years.
She testified that her department had been contacted by the state after the father of one of the girls contacted a child-abuse hotline. The state turned the case over to the local division of DCS, which investigated the claims.
Kerberg said she started looking into the case on Sept. 25, 2011, and completed her investigation on Dec. 7 after viewing multiple interviews with the alleged victims at Comfort House Child Advocacy Center in Corydon and conducting her own interviews.
Kerberg said she met with Conley on Oct. 25 and he denied touching either girl.
Kerberg said that it was not uncommon for children to deny that abuse had happened, especially sexual abuse. She added that, in her experience as a DCS worker, she could not recall a child ever lying about sexual abuse.
Under cross-examination, Conley’s attorney, Alan Roles of Louisville, asked Kerberg if one of the girls had ever denied that a molesting had taken place. Kerberg said that one of the girls had initially denied the molesting on multiple occasions but had later changed her story.
The second witness to testify was Trooper David Mitchell, who has been with the Indiana State Police for more than 15 years.
Mitchell investigated the claims of sexual abuse while he was an ISP detective.
Miller said he received the case from his supervisor, Sgt. Sean Clemmons, on Oct. 6.
After watching a DVD interview with one of the victims, Miller interviewed Conley. Miller said Conley denied the molesting allegations against him and agreed to take a polygraph. A couple of weeks later, the polygraph was taken and evidence was turned over to the office of Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk.
At that point, Miller said, the investigation only involved one of the girls.
Schalk asked Miller if the investigation could have been handled better, to which Miller said it could have by doing additional interviews.
Under cross, Miller said that, during the interview, Conley denied ever touching one of the girls, and that the other girl had made similar allegations in the past, to which he denied having any involvement. Conley said during the interview that he didn’t want to be left alone with girls because he knew of someone who went to prison after an allegation of molesting.
Conley said he had only been alone with one of the girls a couple of times.