‘This is not natural:’ Rape victim testifies at trial of Thearon Grambling
By J.J. Kindred | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The victim of an alleged statutory rape testified during the first day of a Maryville man’s trial Tuesday afternoon in Blount County Circuit Court.
Thearon Antonio Grambling, 45, Stone Tree Drive, was charged with incest and statutory rape by an authority figure after the victim, who is a family member, reported he had raped her on the morning of Aug. 6, 2011.
Opening statements were given by Blount County Assistant District Attorney Clinton Frazier and Grambling’s attorney, Public Defender Mack Garner, in front of the jury and Judge Tammy Harrington.
“She was grabbed by (Grambling), who threw her down on the floor and penetrated her against her will,” Frazier said. “She had only been in Tennessee for six weeks, and barely knew him. He had discussed taking (her) into custody and teaching her to be an adult.
“(She) was taken to the Child Advocacy Center, and the doctor performed a rape kit,” Frazier continued. “A substance was sent to a laboratory, and semen inside (her) was of Grambling.”
“This is an emotionally disturbing case,” Garner said during his opening statement. “There will be some information that will be hotly contested. (The victim) was living with (a family member) in Ohio, and she attempted to run away, use drugs and misbehaved. But (the family member) decided to live with (Grambling) in Tennessee. She (the victim) wasn’t happy about it.
“You have to look at the circumstances where the allegations arose,” the defense attorney continued. “Is she telling the truth, or is she telling this to get away from (Grambling)?”
The victim, who was 15 at the time of the rape and is now 17, testified that she didn’t live with Grambling, but stayed with him. She said she never had much interaction with him, but lived in Ohio with another family member and confirmed she had only been in Tennessee six weeks prior to the incident.
“I was depressed, and we went to get some Lokos (an alcoholic beverage) in Kentucky,” the victim said. “We started drinking and smoking pot. I was getting ready to go to bed, but he got mad because he spent gas money to go all the way to Kentucky. He made me drink mine and drink some of his.
“I was getting ready to put my pajamas on, and I felt like someone was following me,” the victim continued. “I turned around and asked what he was doing. He had me on the floor, and he was holding my legs down. He grabbed my waist and put his whole body weight on me and he proceeded.”
The victim said further, “I twisted myself (free) and he wrestled me to the floor and he (penetrated me). I was yelling, and my hands were behind my back. I said, ‘This is not natural.’ He wasn’t saying anything to me.”
She said that Grambling got up and walked out of her room, pulling his clothes up, and she shut the door, put her clothes back on and went to sleep. The next morning, Grambling told her he was going to work, and as soon as he left, she took a shower and left the apartment before “things got worse,” she said.
“I was scared,” the victim said. “I went to the manager’s office of the apartment building, and there were people at another apartment having a yard sale and I asked to use their phone and I called the police. I told them what happened and they took me to the Children’s Advocacy Center.”
In state custody
The victim testified that she was interviewed and had a rape kit conducted on her, and was taken to a group home through the Department of Children’s Services. She has been in state custody since.
Video testimony from Nov. 15, 2012, was shown featuring Josh Abernathy, a forensic scientist with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. He used oral swabs to test the DNA of the victim and Grambling as well as the victim’s underwear, shorts and a shirt. There was the presence of bodily fluid in her underwear that was consistent with Grambling’s, he testified.
Other witness testimony included Dr. Stephanie Shults, a Knoxville pediatrician who works with the Children’s Advocacy Center and performed the rape kit on the victim; and Jessica Sparks, who works with the Crime Scene Unit at the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, who collected a sample from Grambling.
The trial continues today with more witness testimony.