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Teacher on trial for sexual allegations

WELLSBURG — A jury of six women and six men Tuesday heard opening arguments in the trial of a Brooke County teacher accused of having an improper relationship with a pupil in 2015.

In addressing the jury, Brooke County Chief Assistant Prosecutor David F. Cross noted Tim Turner, 43, of New Cumberland, has been charged with third-degree sexual abuse, sexual abuse by a person in a position of trust and soliciting a minor using a computer.

Cross said while serving as band director at the former Wellsburg Middle School, Turner gained the trust of a 14-year-old pupil with the intention of pursuing a sexual relationship with her.

He said the girl told the investigating officer of two occasions in which Turner touched her in a sexual manner.

Cross added during the next few days the jury will hear from fellow students who will testify the two didn’t have a normal teacher-student relationship, spending nearly every day alone together at lunch in the school’s band room.

Robert McCoid, Turner’s attorney, said the allegations stem from statements from classmates that should be categorized as heresay and the girl, who didn’t come to police with the allegations, has changed her story more than once.

First to testify was Brooke County Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Conley, who was charged with investigating the alleged relationship that came to the attention of school officials through the girl’s classmates.

Conley said the girl was able to describe the layout of the Follansbee home where Turner previously lived, including a blanket on the bed where she said he undressed her and himself and attempted to have sex with her in June 2015.

The girl said the two didn’t have intercourse because she told him no, Cross said. The prosecutor said Turner had taken the girl to his home after picking her up at her home, where he told her parents he was giving her ride to a concert at Wellsburg’s Central Park.

Cross said Turner had given the girl private music lessons in her home and had gained the trust of her parents. He said witnesses reported seeing the two at the concert.

But McCoid said Turner stopped at the house only to pick up some snacks and feed his dog, which had been kenneled in his room, and invited her to see it before leaving soon after.

Under cross-examination by McCoid, Conley confirmed the girl initially denied any sexual contact between her and Turner, saying he was a good man who wouldn’t do that.

McCoid asked Conley if he had lied to the girl, telling her Turner had been with other girls, in an effort to solicit a different response.

Conley said he told her that because her body language led him to believe she was lying.

“When people are victims of crimes, especially sexual assault, they don’t know how to talk, how to bring those feelings forward. Especially children,” the deputy said.

Conley added he believes the girl had feelings for Turner that clouded her judgment.

“She absolutely loves him and still to this day, I believe, she does,” he said.

Under Cross’ questioning, Conley said he also found evidence the two had communicated with each other by phone and through social media.

But McCoid said the state has failed to present messages containing sexual content.

The trial is expected to continue through Thursday, with testimony from others involved in the investigation or close to the two involved.

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