Dennis D. Knopp is on trial 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. The alleged victims are his two biological daughters and his stepdaughter, who once thought she was his biological daughter.
Judge David Nibert is presiding over the trial.
On Wednesday, the two biological daughters and their mother took the stand. Both girls testified to the same type of abuse their sister described the day before during the trial.
Their mother, Robin Perry, took the stand and described how Knopp allegedly beat the girls when they were younger and said he threatened them with a gun when she left him. She also said she was not allowed to see her daughters and filed for custody of the girls. Once they were at an age to choose with whom they would live, they chose their mother as a way to discontinue further contact with Knopp.
Perry said she knew about the physical abuse and later began to suspect sexual abuse. She said she contacted Child Protective Services and the West Virginia State Police, but when they investigated, the girls denied the accusation because they claimed they were in fear for their lives.
Also taking the stand was Susan McQuaide, a counselor with the Family Counseling Connection in Charleston who had met with two of the girls. She described both girls as having traumatic issues such as anxiety, nightmares and fears, which she said are some of the symptoms of a person who has been abused sexually.
When asked upon cross-examination by Greg Campbell, defense attorney, if false allegations can be made during a bad custody hearing, McQuaide said false accusations of a parent sexually abusing his or her child are rare.
After resting its case, the defense asked that two counts of the indictment be dismissed, then asked for an acquittal.
Nibert dismissed one count of child abuse causing bodily injury but denied the other count to be dismissed as well as the acquittal.
When the defense began its case, Knopp was the first to take the stand and denied the allegations against him. He described how frightening it was to raise three girls even though his mother assisted him.
When Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jessica Donahue asked if Perry fought for custody of the girls, Knopp said she had. He also said he had not had contact with the three girls for at least three years.
“I don’t know who these girls are,” he said. “They are not my daughters.”
Knopp’s wife, her daughter and his mother also took the stand and denied ever seeing abnormal bruises on the girls.
The trial was scheduled to continue at 9 a.m. today.