Trial begins for St. Thomas man accused of raping girl at summer camp


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ST. THOMAS - The details were sketchy Monday in the trial of a man facing rape charges after a teenage girl accused him of molesting her during a summer camp celebration two years ago.

Kelvin Pickering, who was 32 at the time of the August 2012 incident, sat quietly alongside his attorney, Carl Williams, in V.I. Superior Court during the first day of his trial.

Pickering was arrested about a week after the 15-year-old girl reported the Aug. 3, 2012, incident. The girl, a camp counselor at the time, said that Pickering, a camp supervisor at the time, put his fingers up her vagina and then placed his penis on her, near her own genitalia.

Pickering is facing charges of second-degree rape and second-degree unlawful sexual contact charges.

According to V.I. Police Department reports, witnesses verified that Pickering and the girl had been out beyond the buoy line at Lindbergh Bay Beach about 2:30 p.m. on the day in question.

Several of the witnesses stated that they saw the victim's arms wrapped around Pickering. What exactly took place, however, was a mystery because the water was high enough that the majority of both their bodies was below the water's surface.

The victim, who still is a minor, testified in court during the morning and into the afternoon.

"He wrapped my legs around him," she said, visibly uncomfortable and barely audible at times. She was not feeling well, she told Assistant Attorney General Douglas Dick, who is prosecuting the case.

The victim, who wore a black bow in her hair and her school uniform, though she did not intend on attending school Monday, recalled that she also was not feeling well on the day in question. Initially, she had stayed out of the water that day, despite the fact that it was the last day of camp. Several different camps gather at the beach and celebrate on that day, she said.

In the mid-afternoon, she eventually went into the water, and was playing with the other camp counselors and campers, she said.

Then, Pickering approached her and pulled her away from the crowd of about 90 people in the water, the girl testified.

He pulled her to a point where she was unable to stand in the water, so she placed her arms around his neck, she said.

Once Pickering took her beyond the buoy line, he began to fondle her, according to her account on the stand.

"He told me I felt good," she said.

Williams, Pickering's attorney, repeatedly questioned the girl about fragments of the story that did not quite match with the report she initially told detectives three days after she said the incident happened.

The girl told police that Pickering took off the shorts that she was wearing in the water over her swimsuit, but on the stand, she said that he had not.

She also had told police that she had decided to enter the water initially because a group of boys was bothering her while she was hanging out on shore, a fact that she later confirmed but at first had denied.

However, the girl was adamant that Pickering had inappropriately touched her while out past the swimming boundary and that other camp counselors were aware of what was transpiring.

"Everybody seen what was going on, and nobody did anything," she testified.

According to her account, two camp counselors approached her and Pickering and asked what was going on.

"He said, 'We're out here making love.' They laughed and turned around," she said.

When asked why she did not notify anyone of what happened, she said that she did not feel like she could because she knew already that people were aware of what happened.

The girl testified that she also did not tell her mother because she thought her mother would "kill her" if she found out.

However, because several supervisors at the camp were suspicious of what happened beyond the buoys, several supervisors approached the girl and her mother, as well as Pickering, and the supervisors compiled a report.

The girl's mother took her daughter to Dr. Jennifer Miller on Aug. 6.

Miller testified that it appeared at the time that the girl had sexual intercourse within the last week, but she could not determine that it was forcible. It appeared, based on tears within the girl's vaginal wall that something soft and symmetrical had entered her, but she could not say for sure what.

Miller also testified that neither the girl nor her mother wanted to discuss what happened and simply wanted an exam to hand over to the police, she said.

Second-degree rape is defined in V.I. Code as an act of sexual intercourse with a person who is not the perpetrator's spouse and who is at least 16 years old but younger than 18 when the perpetrator is five years or older than the victim. The maximum jail sentence is 10 years. Conviction also requires registration as a sex offender.

Pickering's trial is expected to continue today.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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