Monday , July 16, 2012 - 12:03 PM
ORLANDO, Fla. - A woman told authorities that when she was a little girl, murder suspect George Zimmerman sexually molested her for a decade, according to prosecution records released Monday.
The woman, identified only as "witness 9," said the abuse started when she was 6 and ended when she was 16.
That bombshell is part of a new set of evidence just released by Special Prosecutor Angela Corey.
On Monday, Corey released witness 9’s statement plus 120 recorded jail phone calls made by Zimmerman when he was in the Seminole County Jail.
In a statement released several weeks ago, witness 9 told Sanford police that Zimmerman does not like blacks. In the audio-recorded interview released Monday, she reiterated that but without providing specifics.
Zimmerman’s family, she said, "don’t like black people if they don’t act like white people. They like black people if they act white."
Had she seen George Zimmerman act with hostility toward a black person, she was asked.
No, she said.
Defense attorney Mark O’Mara made a last-minute attempt to block the release of witness 9’s statement as well as the jail calls. He filed a motion Monday morning at the Seminole County Courthouse, asking that they be delayed, but Corey’s office released them anyway. A pending court order required their release.
Witness 9 told prosecutors the molestation began when her parents were moving to another state and she and her sister were sent to stay with Zimmerman’s family in Virginia.
"We would all lay in front of the TV" to watch movies, she said, "and he would reach under the blankets and try to do things. . I would try to push him off, but he was bigger and stronger and older," she said.
He touched her improperly, she said, and at least once, when she was 12, forced her to touch him.
The last sexual encounter, she said, happened when she visited Zimmerman’s family in Lake Mary. He directed her to lie on a bed and began to massage her, she said.
"I just got up and I ran out of the house and I got in my car," she said, adding that Zimmerman "only chased me to the front door."
She and her parents eventually confronted Zimmerman at an Orlando-area restaurant, she said. Zimmerman said he was sorry and left, she said.
In private, she said, Zimmerman was different than when he was around a group of people.
"He always was just, you know, very charming and personable with everyone . and just would laugh and entertain everybody," she said. "But he was different behind closed doors with me."
Investigators asked her why she decided to come forward now.
"This is the first time in my life that I’m not afraid of him," she replied.
The 28-year-old Zimmerman is awaiting trial on a charge of second-degree murder. He killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, Feb. 26 after he spotted the Miami Gardens high school junior walking through his Sanford neighborhood.
Zimmerman says he killed Trayvon in self-defense after the teenager attacked him. Prosecutors say Zimmerman assumed Trayvon was about to commit a crime, followed him then murdered him.
Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. on Friday signed an order, requiring that the recorded jail calls and witness 9’s statement be made public.
More than a dozen media companies, including the Orlando Sentinel, twice went to court, arguing that they are public records and, as such, must be released.
O’Mara had asked that they be kept secret, saying the people his client phoned deserved to have their identities and conversations kept private.
As for witness 9, he said prosecutors are unlikely to use her account as part of their case in chief, that it’s uncorroborated and that it’s likely to inflame hostility toward his client.
The jail calls were made in mid-April, when Zimmerman was first arrested. He’s now free on $1 million bail.
Prosecutors earlier released a half-dozen of those calls and used them as evidence to support a perjury charge against Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie.
They allege that in those calls, George Zimmerman coached his wife and other relatives on how to move tens of thousands of dollars through credit union accounts in an apparent effort to hide money.
Shellie Zimmerman testified at an April bond hearing that the couple was broke when, in fact, they had access to $130,000.
The discovery of all that money led the judge to temporarily revoke George Zimmerman’s $150,000 bond and lock him up for another month.
)2012 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)
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