The trial of Edward Harold Ghostbear started in earnest Thursday, with the attorneys making opening statements and examining and cross-examining the first witnesses.
Ghostbear is accused of having sex with a young schoolgirl while staying in a homeless shelter housed in the basement of a church.
In the opening arguments, the prosecuting attorney, Broadwater County Attorney Karla Mae Bosse, said a man the alleged victim used to call her father — whom the girl’s mother trusted to watch over while she worked as if he were her father — betrayed that parental trust.
She said the alleged victim loved Ghostbear, and he would watch over her, play games with her, buy her coloring books and take her to the library and to get treats — which sounds like a typical relationship for an 8-year-old to have with her father.
“But there’s something about (the victim) that’s not typical of all 8-year-old kids, ” Bosse said. “And that is, at some time in the course of her relationship with Dad, he introduced her to a kind of affection that isn’t normal between dads and their children. ”
But Hill County Public Defender Dan Minnis painted a different picture.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this case is about a rush to judgement, ” he said. “It’s about a runaway bus.
“It’s about what happens when an investigation becomes more about verifying what is assumed and less about an unbiased search for the truth. It’s about law enforcement hearing a story and assuming the truth despite a changing story, ” he said.
Minnis said the entire case is based on the assumption that the story is true — no physical evidence is available.
“You have to assume that the defendant did what they say he did, ” Minnis said, adding, “You can’t make that assumption. ”
Minnis said the story came about because the mother of the alleged victim wanted to get at Ghostbear — no matter what.
“Not because of what he said or did to his daughter, but because of what he did to her, ” Minnis said. “She believed he was cheating on her. ”
But Bosse in her opening argument said that is not what happened, and that the alleged victim’s story is true. She said the evidence and witnesses would convince the members of the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Ghostbear is guilty.
The date of the alleged incident was one day before the alleged victim’s birthday. The alleged victim’s report led to things no child would choose, including being interviewed by police, medical examinations, and counseling, Bosse said.
“An 8-year-old girl who spends her eighth birthday in stirrups in Benefis Hospital being examined for sexual trauma, these are not things that any child would choose for herself, ” Bosse said. “These are not things that any child would concoct. ”