Thursday’s testimony by sisters who alleged sexual abuse against Kevin Lee Crisel from 1999 to 2001 painted the picture consistent with allegations of the more recent abuse of a young girl.
Crisel, 45, is on trial for sexually abusing another girl from 2009 to 2012 when she was between the ages of 5 and 8 years old.
First Assistant District Attorney Kyle Cabelka asked his witness to share her story with the jury.
“Almost immediately he gravitated towards me,” Jessica Kelley said during testimony against Crisel.
Jessica Kelley was 10 years old when she and her mother, sisters and brother moved from Arizona to Lawton. Following her parents’ divorce, they moved in with her great-uncle and great-aunt Chuck and Linda Crisel, Kevin Crisel as well as many others who lived in the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house. That would be the setting for the time between 1999 and 2001 when she alleged his abuse.
By coming from a “broken family,” Jessica Kelley said the family offered hers a sense of security. She believed she had a “home.”
From the beginning, she said the then-25-year-old Crisel wanted her close to him. Her cot was set up in the hallway outside his room. At first, she thought he was being fatherly toward her.
“He took me almost as a girlfriend. … He would pull me out of bed in the middle of the night and take me into his room,” Jessica Kelley said.
“I felt it was almost every night for the two years I was there,” she said of the frequency of abuse.
The activity began with him teaching her how to kiss and quickly led to sexual acts, she said. As a 10-year-old girl, Jessica Kelley said she believed him when he said it was practice and that it was normal for kids to “practice.”
Within those first nights, she said Crisel began talking about marrying her when she turned 18. The sexual activity was pushed to new levels, she said. When her body wouldn’t allow one act, he turned to another.
“I was a tiny kid, so of course it hurt a little bit,” Jessica Kelley said.
Composed throughout her testimony, Kelley fought tears and visibly shook but remained strong with delivering her memories.
“No, I didn’t know it was wrong,” she said. “It was just a normal part of life.”
The abuse escalated further when Crisel brought Kelley’s siblings into the activity with her. By then, he’d built a two-bedroom set-up in the family’s garage. He took one room and put Kelley and her sisters in the other.
Kelley said when Crisel brought her “3 or 4-year-old” brother into the activities and had them have sex, it was devastating. Crisel told her it was, again, practice, she said.
“He was just teaching my brother how to do it,” she said. “He’d say to me, ‘Hide your head under the blanket so you don’t have to see.’”
Jessica Kelley said her father learned there was abuse and came to Lawton and took the children from school. She said he pulled her from class “kicking and screaming.” Her father had been denigrated by the host family and, over the time, she said she believed what they said.
“We were brainwashed,” she said. “Kevin would encourage us to call him dad instead.”
The return to Arizona was followed quickly with a call to the police and child welfare investigators. Jessica Kelley said she never told her dad about her abuse but her siblings had. Time spent with a counselor led to a moment where she pointed on a doll where Crisel had touched her but she didn’t speak about it. It would be years before she said she could.
There was a day while in school when Jessica Kelley said Crisel’s father and another relative showed up at her and her siblings’ Arizona school. She ran to the office and had them keep them from taking them from class. She still didn’t tell anyone of the abuse at that time. It would be later in her teens before she could acknowledge what it had been and spoke with her friends about it.
“I realized I had been brainwashed,” she said. “I had been raped, I had been molested.”
In 2010, Kelley filed a complaint against Crisel with the Comanche County District Attorney’s Office. That contact led to speaking with Lawton Police Detective Lt. David Schucker, who began an investigation. Her siblings also made statements and shared information with the investigators. No charges were filed. She said Thursday in District Judge Emmit Tayloe’s courtroom was the first opportunity she’d had to tell her story.
When Cabelka asked about her truthfulness, Jessica Kelley was unhesitating with her response.
“Why would I come here and talk about sex with my brother if I was making this up?” she said. “Kevin was good to me, at least, I thought he was.”
During cross-examination by Crisel’s counsel, David Smith, Kelley answered why she never told anyone about the abuse before.
“I didn’t say it didn’t happen, I just didn’t talk about it,” she said.
The elder sister’s testimony was preceded by her sister Ashley’s. She described similar experiences.
When Cabelka asked if this was also her first opportunity to talk about the abuse publicly, she replied in the affirmative.
Ashley Kelley said it wasn’t something that was talked about openly between the siblings. She said her brother is in prison for robbery; he’d always had troubles after the time spent with the Crisels. There was also concern about the youngest sister’s memories from that time.
“We weren’t sure how much stuck in our little sister’s head,” she said, “especially the part where he made us do stuff to my brother.”
Visibly shaken, she looked to Crisel seated at the defense table when asked if she saw the man who did these things to her and replied, “Yes.”
When later asked by Smith if she was afraid of Crisel, Ashley Kelley again replied, “Yes.”
“I’m afraid of anyone that has a connection with Kevin,” she said.
The case is expected to go to closing arguments today. Testimony will begin around 8:30 a.m.
Written by Scott Rains: email@example.com.