Opening statements and the first two witnesses for the prosecution took the stand against a Leon man who is accused of physically and sexually abusing his stepdaughter and two biological daughters.
Judge David Nibert is presiding over the trial.
In May 2008, a grand jury indicted Dennis D. Knopp of Leon for 11 counts of first-degree sexual assault, eight counts of second-degree sexual assault, eight counts of third-degree sexual assault, 13 counts of sexual abuse by a parent, 13 counts of incest, six counts of sexual abuse by a custodian and six counts of child abuse resulting in bodily injury.
A jury panel of seven men, five women and one alternate was determined during the morning session. Opening arguments by the state and defense were presented in the afternoon session, as was the testimony of Senior Trooper J.K. Cox of the West Virginia State Police, who is the investigator, and one of the victims, who is Knopp’s stepdaughter.
Knopp is represented by Greg Campbell of Charleston.
After the jury received preliminary instructions from Nibert, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jessica Donahue began her opening statement, saying the alleged abuse occurred in Mason County between 1994 and 2005. She also said the victim, who now is 25, experienced the first alleged attack in 1991 while the family was living in Virginia.
In his testimony, Cox stated that he had met the three women in October 2007 when Charles Perry, the victim’s biological father, entered the Mason County Detachment to speak to him about the alleged abuse of his daughter and stepdaughters. A warrant for Knopp’s arrest was issued in November 2007, and he was arrested the same day.
The victim then testified that she was about 8 years old when the alleged abuse began. She told of Knopp not only sexually abusing her, but also physically abusing her, and she said that at the time she believed he was her biological father.
The victim also testified that Knopp had threatened her with a gun as well as threatening and physically abusing her mother.
After becoming emotional on the stand, the victim said she did not tell her teachers or other adults about the abuse because she believed she was protecting her two younger sisters.
Several family members and friends for the defendant as well as the victims were in the courtroom Wednesday to offer support for both parties.
The trial was set to resume at 9 a.m. today.