Opening statements took place in Riley Court on Tuesday morning for the Trial of Christopher Bates.
Bates is facing 6 counts of criminal conduct including indecent liberties, rape, and sodomy of a child under 14 years of age. Riley County district attorney Barry Wilkerson indicated in his opening statement that the evidence will show how Bates used his friendship with the father of two female victims to engage in inappropriate acts with the children. According to the prosecution Bates engaged in criminal acts against a 12-year-old victim, hereon known as Victim A, after a late night party at the victim’s family home. The prosecution says that sometime during the night Bates assaulted Victim A within the home as he stayed overnight within the residence sometime overnight between August 10th, and 11th in 2013.
The first witness for the prosecution was the defendant’s wife. Wilkerson asked her how often she stayed the night at the victim’s house. The wife stated it was very often, and most weekends the Bates would spend a portion of the weekend at the victim’s house. During her testimony Bates’s wife said she sometimes would go home, and Christopher Bates would stay the night without her. In fact on the night in question with Victim A’s alleged assault she had gone home after having a disagreement with Christopher Bates on whether or not to leave early due to concerns with her new puppy. She indicated Christopher Bates had stayed at the alleged Victim A’s home while she returned to their own residence on Fort Riley.
The defendant’s wife also answered questions regarding the layout of the alleged victim’s home, and whether or not she could see the living room where some of the assaults allegedly took place. She indicated she could see some portions depending on her position on the futon. In cross examination defense attorneys asked the defendant’s wife about her position on the futon, and how Christopher Bates would have to crawl over her and wake her up when he awoke in the early morning hours. The defense also pointed out that Bates’s wife would also hear when someone was using the stairs at night.
The mother of Victim A also took the stand and testified that the morning after the party Victim A approached her with a letter stating that Bates attacked Victim A during the night. The mother of Victim A told Bate’s then friend and fellow soldier about the letter, and they called police. The mother of the alleged victim read the letter from Victim A in court. After an initial interview by a patrol officer Riley County Detective Julia Goggins took over the case, and interviewed Victim A to begin the next stage of the investigation.
During the trial the Mother of Victim A says a portion of the family later gathered for a bonding moment when Bates’s name was brought up in a conversation by the person hereafter known as Victim B. The mother says at that time Victim A became very upset, and so she pulled Victim B aside to tell her to be mindful of Victim A’s feelings. The mother of Victim A and B also indicated in part of her testimony at that at the time no one outside of her husband, Victim A, and herself knew of the incident being investigated as per the wishes of Victim A. The mother testified that it was after being told to be mindful of Victim A’s feelings that Victim B indicated that Bates had previously assaulted her as well. The mother says she told Victim A and B’s father about the allegations, and called Detective Goggins who continued the investigation with Victim A and B.
The mother of alleged victims also stated that previously sometime in the summer of 2013 Christopher Bates had approached her in her own bedroom and reached under the blanket to rub her leg, and woke her up to engage in a mutually consenting affair. The mother of the victims pulled away from Bates, and afterwards began locking the door to her bedroom to ensure “he got the message” that she didn’t want to engage in any sort of activity. During her testimony she admitted not telling her husband at the time to save his feelings toward his close friend.
During the trial Riley County Prosecutor Barry Wilkerson highlighted that Bates, and Victim A and B’s father were very close at work and socially after hours. Wilkerson indicated the two soldiers in fact could have been called “joined at the hip”. It was also revealed that the alleged victim’s father was Christopher Bates superior within the unit, and had recently returned from a deployment with Bates in February of 2013.
After lunch recess on Tuesday Victim A took the stand and testified on various aspects of the alleged assaults. First Victim A identified Christopher Bates in the courtroom as the alleged victim’s assailant. Victim A told the court that overnight on the 10th of August 2013 Christopher Bates was staying the night at their home after his wife went home, and was in the living room with Victim A when he at some point positioned himself just to the right of the recliner Victim A was using as a bed for the night. According to Victim A’s testimony at some point Victim A fell asleep and woke up with Bates rubbing their legs, and over some time of waking and sleeping further sexually assaulted Victim A throughout the night until Victim A escaped back upstairs. Victim A told authorities that the incident wasn’t the first time that sort of activity occurred, and related two more incidents to investigators. Victim A said in one instance the father of Victim A walked in on Bates while he was rubbing their legs. Victim A says Bates quickly withdrew his hands, and acted like nothing was going on in the bedroom.
The defense asked Victim A about the family dog, and the location of the dog during the alleged assaults. Defense attorneys also affirmed that Victim A had not been coerced to keep anything a secret by Christopher Bates. The defense attorneys brought up the end of the letter from Victim A noting the “P.S” on the bottom alluded to the contents of the letter not being a dream. Once again the defense team pointed out the hardwood floors, and other environmental conditions within the home.
The next witness was the sexual assault nurse examiner at Mercy Regional Health Center, Amanda Nall. Nall testified that she found an abrasian in the genital area of Victim A. Upon cross examinations by the defense Nurse Nall testified she didn’t measure the abrasion, or use a color chart to identify the injury. Defense attorney Larry McRell asked if Nall had done an examination on the defendants finger as part of the overall investigation. Nall said she had not done so in this case.
The last witness to testify was Victim B. Victim B testified in another court room via telecommunications due to Victim B’s young age. Victim B testified that she knew the difference between truth and lying. Victim B said Christopher Bates assaulted Victim B inside their home in the same living room that Victim A reported being assaulted. Victim B testified that the assault took place about four weeks before the assault on Victim A. Victim B stated Christopher Bates’s wife was not present in the home, and had left to her own home earlier in the evening. Once again the defense pointed out the hardwood floors within the home, position of the futon Bates commonly used as a sleeping area while overnighting at the home, and lighting within the home itself.
The state will continue to call witnesses on Wednesday morning at 09:00 a.m.