EDITOR’S NOTE: Some language and topics discussed in this article are of a highly adult nature. The names of the accusers are not being used in this article because they are minors.



The trial of a Malakoff man accused of attempting to solicit sex from two young girls in 2004 got under way Wednesday in Judge Jim Parsons’ 3rd District Court after law enforcement officers spent Tuesday evening searching for a pair of witnesses.

Charles Howard Mullins stands accused of criminal solicitation of two minor girls, ages 11 and 12, on Nov. 23, 2004. The girls, who were skipping school that day, said Mullins posed as a police officer after discovering them walking down a street and asked them for sex.

In the presence of the jury, Mullins pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.

The accusers, now ages 14 and 12, were first to testify and spent most of the morning on the witness stand. Both admitted they were skipping school and were walking down a street after hanging out at two nearby abandoned houses when they claimed they were approached by Mullins.

The 14-year-old witness said as she and her friend were walking that day, Mullins approached them and said, “‘Busted,’ and went on to explain that he was a cop and that he’d have to turn them in.” Both girls testified Mullins eventually asked them to come to his house to “play house,” and they questioned what that meant and what he wanted.

“He said, ‘What do all boys want?’” the 14-year-old testified in response to questioning from Assistant District Attorney Barry Spencer. The answer, both said, initially was sex. One of the girls then said they couldn’t do that because her mother tests the girls’ DNA every week to see if they’ve had any sexual activity. They both testified that he then said that if they performed oral sex on him, “it wouldn’t show up.”

The girls eventually walked away, saying Mullins told them not to tell anyone they had talked. Later that evening, the girls’ parents learned of the alleged incident. The following Monday, they went to Malakoff Middle School to inform officials there. Testimony revealed statements were taken by a school official, but that the statements were never turned over to the Malakoff Police Department. When the girls’ parents went to the police department in late January to find out why Mullins was not in jail, the department began its own investigation. Officers went to Malakoff Middle School to obtain the statements taken from the girls two months earlier, but the documents could not be found.

Malakoff Police Chief Joe Cantu testified that, in the course of his department’s investigation, three other young girls who also live in the neighborhood said Mullins once attempted to “pick them up” in his van on their way to a local convenience store. Mullins’ defense attorney, Rebecca Vann, would later challenge those claims on cross examination, pointing out that the three girls were friends with the two accusers and may have been making up a story to bolster the other girls’ claims. Under her questioning, Cantu admitted those three girls were asked to come in and formally talk with officers about the incident, but that they never showed up to give a sworn statement.

Upon cross examining the 14-year-old, Vann also asked about an incident where she accused her stepfather of molesting her. The 14-year-old said she never directly made the accusation, but that her friend had, and later told police the accusation was not true.

In her opening statements, Vann said the girls admitted lying about the accusation against Mullins, saying they were “angry for being punished for skipping school.” The defense could begin calling witnesses later this week.

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e-mail jlarson@athensreview.com

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