The trial of a Clearfield woman accused of inappropriately touching a 17-year-old student at Clearfield County Career and Technology Center got underway before Judge Paul Cherry yesterday at the Clearfield County Courthouse.
Edna Spencer, 60, is charged with corruption of minors and indecent assault.
The victim testified during direct examination by Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr., that on March 15, 2018, she was a 17-year-old culinary arts student.
She arrived at school at about 8 a.m. and went into the locker room to change into her chef’s uniform. Her 15-year-old friend had already arrived and she was in the locker room when she entered.
Spencer, who was an aide for another student and employed with Clearfield Area School District, entered the locker room and used the restroom. The victim testified she was facing the lockers in her underwear when Spencer walked by, and allegedly touched her inappropriately before exiting.
The girl said she and her friend spoke to each other about the incident when a second friend entered the locker room, and they told her about what happened. The girls later reported the incident to the guidance counselor, Catherine McKendrick who told them to see Principal Fred Redden.
The victim said all three of the girls provided written statements and gave them to Redden; additional written statements were provided to a Lawrence Township Police officer at a later date.
The victim testified that sometimes during class, Spencer would compliment them on their cooking and touch the girls on the back or rear, but it was always over her clothes, and this occurred about once a month. The victim said she reported the locker room incident because Spencer touched her bare skin and she was partially dressed at the time.
During cross-examination, Spencer’s attorney, Chris Mohney of DuBois, asked her if she discussed the incident with the two other girls in the locker room before going to the office and she said they did.
He asked her if the three of them discussed what they were going to say as they walked to the office and she said they did.
Mohney asked if Redden ever interviewed her separately from the other two girls and she said he didn’t, he interviewed all three of them together and said she never spoke to Redden alone about the incident.
Mohney then showed the victim the written statement she gave to Redden, and noted that in it, she didn’t mention anything about being touched, but wrote about inappropriate verbal statements.
Mohney then showed the victim the written statement she gave to police, and said she wrote that Spencer had touched her sides and she said she did write it.
The victim’s friend who was in the locker room gave similar testimony, but she said Spencer said something slightly different after touching the victim on her sides. She said Spencer left the locker room immediately after the incident. She also gave similar statement to the alleged victim about Spencer touching them in class from time to time.
During cross-examination by Mohney, the girl said she didn’t report Spencer about the incidents in the classroom because she thought Spencer was giving them compliments and didn’t ‘t want to see her get into trouble.
She said she doesn’t believe Spencer should lose her job or face charges for the locker room incident, but believed what Spencer did was wrong.
She also said when interviewed by Redden and police, the three girls were always together and they were not interviewed individually.
During re-direct by Shaw. the witness said no one told her what to write in her written statement.
The second witness who entered the locker room after the incident occurred gave similar testimony as the other two girls of what happened afterward.
Redden testified that after hearing the girls account of what happened, he spoke to Spencer, who admitted to touching the girl on the side but said she did not rub her, and didn’t do it maliciously.
After speaking to Spencer, Redden said he reported the incident on Child Line as mandated and called Spencer’s employer. Spencer was eventually removed from the building and has not returned since.
During cross-examination by Mohney, Redden was asked if he spoke to any other students about the incident. Redden said he was contacted by the police who asked if they could talk to the other girls in the class. None of the other girls had any complaints about Spencer or saw her do anything inappropriate.
He also said he knew Spencer for many years and said he didn’t have any complaints about her prior to this incident.
The trial will continue today.