An Erie County jury Monday found a 59-year-old Michigan Avenue man guilty of sex crimes against a 12-year-old girl.
James H. Washington faces a prison sentence of 32 years when sentenced Dec. 19 by Erie County Judge Kenneth F. Case.
Washington was 56 years old at the time of the crimes.
During the weeklong trial, jurors heard the girl testify, watched parts of a detective’s videotaped interview with Washington and listened to a recorded call between Washington and the girl’s mother – all of which provided “a mountain of evidence that screams this defendant’s guilt,” said Rosanne E. Johnson, chief of the Special Victims Bureau of the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.
Jurors deliberated for about two hours before convicting Washington of first-degree course of sexual conduct against a child and second-degree criminal sexual act. Washington has known the girl for years through his relationship with one of the girl’s relatives.
Jurors found that he engaged in at least a half dozen acts of oral sodomy and sexual intercourse with the girl from November 2009 to April 2010.
The girl delayed reporting the sexual abuse because Washington told her that her “family would hate you,” among other comments, if she told anyone, prosecutors said.
“The defendant thought he got away with it,” Johnson told jurors. “He counted on the fact he scared her into silence.”
The girl finally revealed the abuse to her mother. By then, her school grades had suffered, and the mother had grown alarmed because her daughter insisted on staying in her bedroom. The girl’s behavior also turned worrisome, such as when she began cutting her arms, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors praised Detective Natalie Perez of the Buffalo Police Sex Offense Squad for her handling of the interview with Washington that led to his signed confession and arrest.
Washington often rambled during the cordial 2½-hour interview, but Perez redirected him to the topic. Washington even complimented Perez for being sweet during the interview.
Eventually, when pressed on one kind of sexual act the girl accused him of committing, Washington admitted he had done so a couple of times.
Defense attorney Joseph J. Terranova characterized Washington as “a pleaser” who would say anything if he thought it would please the person to whom he was talking.
“That’s the pleaser talking,” Terranova said of Washington’s apology during the police interview.
“After two and half hours, he’d sign anything,” Terranova said of the signed police statement in which he acknowledged the sexual misconduct.