A Buffalo man found guilty of committing sex crimes against a girl over a four-year period, starting when she was 12 years old, told her she would be abandoned or forced to leave Buffalo if she reported his crimes.
After a two-week trial, an Erie County jury recently convicted Everton Smith as charged of third-degree rape and first-degree course of sexual conduct against a child.
Smith, 50, of Stockbridge Avenue, faces up to 29 years in prison when sentenced April 9 by Erie County Judge Kenneth F. Case.
Prosecutors Lynette Reda and Rosanne Johnson of the District Attorney’s Office said in court that Smith took advantage of friction between the victim and her mother. His threats kept the girl from revealing what had happened, at least for a while.
Smith told the child that all he had to do was say something to her mother and the child would no longer be able to live in Buffalo, according to court testimony.
“He would hold it over my head,” the victim said in court.
The child was not born in Buffalo but moved here when she was in elementary school.
The girl described for jurors her encounters with Smith, which began in 2007.
Smith did not testify in his own defense, but jurors watched a videotaped police interrogation in which he denied harming the child.
“I did not have sex with her. I would never do that. Never. Never,” Smith told Lt. Jeff Rinaldo of the Buffalo Police Department.
Police arranged and recorded a telephone call that the victim placed to Smith asking about his actions.
During the interrogation, Rinaldo asked Smith to explain why he asked the girl during the call if she was recording him.
“Because I was worried, man,” Smith replied, even though he continued to deny the allegations.
Because of Smith’s accent, it was difficult to make out what he was saying on the recorded telephone call.
During the interrogation, Rinaldo asked Smith why he admitted during the call that he had sex with the girl.
“Because I was confused,” Smith replied, saying he was busy with work at the time of the phone call.
“I was confused and working at the same time,” he said. “She was talking, and I was working. I didn’t know what I was saying.”
During the interrogation, Rinaldo was incredulous that someone would admit having sex with a minor, even if busy and confused, if it hadn’t happened.
“Nobody does that,” Rinaldo told Smith. “That sounds ridiculous.”
But throughout the interrogation, Smith continued to deny the allegations.
Jurors deliberated over a couple of days before returning the guilty verdict.
District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III praised Rinaldo, State Police Investigator Christine Borowski and the prosecutors, among others, for their work.
“Because of their dedication and professionalism, another sexual predator has been successfully brought to justice,” Sedita said.