Defense says claim against deputy false

Published 6:00 am Thursday, March 15, 2001

Prosecutors contend an off-duty Lincoln County sheriff’s deputyhad sex with a 15-year-old girl last October, but the defense ispursuing a theory that the alleged victim was the aggressor and islying about the incident.

The jury is expected to get the case today in the trial ofMatthew Lofton, who is accused of felony sexual battery andtouching, handling, feeling a child for lustful purposes andmisdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a child.

The incident in dispute happened on Oct. 29 at a lumber yard offold Highway 51. Lofton, 23, of 1914 Ivy Trail, faces a maximum of30 years in prison if convicted.

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According to prosecution witnesses, the girl had gone to churchthat night to see her boyfriend, who was leaving for CrystalSprings to work with Job Corps. When he was not there and relativeswere unavailable, she called Lofton for a ride home from the churchon Heuck’s Retreat Road.

The victim testified that she had met Lofton several weeksearlier on Brookway Boulevard and had told him she was 14 yearsold. Lofton had offered his help if she ever needed anyassistance.

Later in the trial, a defense witness who was with the victimwhen she met Lofton said she had no recollection of the girltelling the deputy her age.

Instead of taking her home on Oct. 29, the victim said Loftonwanted to go looking for a sheriff’s department roadblock, and theyended up at a wood yard on old Highway 51.

“Now that I have you, what I am going to do with you,” thevictim quoted Lofton as saying after they stopped.

When she asked for a cigarette, the victim said Lofton askedwhat he would get in return. The girl said she did not answer.

After getting the cigarette, the victim said Lofton then startedtouching her, and she rejected his advances five or six times.Eventually, she got tired of saying ‘no’ and they had sex, shesaid.

“I don’t even know why I wasted my time on you,” the victimquoted Lofton as saying as they drove away after the incident.

The victim said Lofton used a soft drink to cover some semenstains on her denim skirt.

In earlier court action, Lofton stipulated the semen washis.

However, in his opening statement, defense attorney Wayne Dowdyargued that the girl was the aggressive one in the incident, and,if there was any fondling it was done by her. The attorney saidthere is no evidence to show that there was sexual battery.

Also during her testimony, the victim acknowledged callingLofton several times, some while he was on duty, after meeting him.However, she denied having a crush on the deputy.

According to prosecution witnesses, the Oct. 29 incident came tolight about two weeks later after the victim confided to a cousin.The victim’s sister, with whom the girl was staying, also foundout.

After the Department of Human Services investigated, thesheriff’s department was contacted. Outside investigators attemptedto interview Lofton about the incident.

Jim Smith, investigator for the District Attorney’s office,testified that Lofton was nervous when called in for questioningabout having had sex with a minor.

“He hanged his head and said, ‘I thought she was 16,'” Smithsaid.

Smith and Sheriff Lynn Boyte, who was also present forquestioning, said Lofton then invoked his Miranda rights, and thatwas the end of the conversation.

After the prosecution rested, Martha Lofton, the defendant’smother, was the first defense witness.

Through her employment with the county school district, Loftonsaid she was aware of the victim and the foster parents the girlwas staying with at the time.

In the community, Martha Lofton said the girl did not have agood reputation as far as truthfulness. She also addressed thegirl’s appearance and the impression it gave as far as her age.

“The way she was dressed was older than what I found out shewas,” Martha Lofton said.

Martha Lofton also testified that her son had an appendectomyand was still sore from surgery as late as Thanksgiving. Undercross-examination, she acknowledged he had returned to full dutywith the sheriff’s department in early September.

The defense was to continue its case this morning with MattLofton expected to take the stand in his defense. Court officialssaid the jury should get the case Thursday afternoon.