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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sexual assault trial begins

NASHUA – A 14-year-old girl took the witness stand Tuesday and told jurors that a Hudson man had raped, molested, assaulted and threatened her for years until she told her friends, a guidance counselor and finally police.

The teenager was testifying during the first day of Michael Kenney’s trial on numerous sexual assault charges at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua. The girl said the abuse started when she was 6 years old and continued until she was 10 or 11. ...

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NASHUA – A 14-year-old girl took the witness stand Tuesday and told jurors that a Hudson man had raped, molested, assaulted and threatened her for years until she told her friends, a guidance counselor and finally police.

The teenager was testifying during the first day of Michael Kenney’s trial on numerous sexual assault charges at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua. The girl said the abuse started when she was 6 years old and continued until she was 10 or 11.

“I’m here because (Kenney) has been sexually abusing me,” the girl said while being questioned by Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Michele Battaglia.

Kenney, 53, of 9 Chatham St., Hudson, was indicted in November on six counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault and accused of abusing the girl from 2006-11. He is also charged with felonious sexual assault, indecent exposure and lewdness, second-degree assault and criminal threatening, according to court documents.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Chuck Keefe said it’s the allegation of second-degree assault that shows the alleged victim’s statements don’t make sense.

Kenney is charged with striking the girl in the head with a wrench while in the basement of his home, raping her, and then holding a screwdriver to her throat and threatening to kill her if she told anyone.

“A wrench across the head of a 7 year old by a grown man,” Keefe said. “I guess she’s asking you to believe in miracles because that’s what must have happened for her to leave that with no apparent injury.”

Keefe said it simply impossible the girl was “smashed” in the head with a wrench and no one noticed any injuries.

Keefe said many of the girl’s statements to police and other investigators have changed repeatedly since they were first made, including when the abuse stopped and important details of certain alleged assaults. He also said other people in the home would have to have noticed evidence of the assaults.

“This girl wants people to believe her even though her story changes every time she tells it, as recently as yesterday,” Keefe said. “We’re left with her words. Words that change. Words that don’t make sense and words that aren’t supported by evidence.”

Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Nicole Thorspecken said in her opening argument the alleged victim was so young when the abuse started she didn’t know it was wrong. Later, she was scared, of Kenney and that no one would believe her.

“Sexual assaults are crimes of secrecy. There is only one witness to this secret life of Michael Kenney,” Thorspecken said. “She was only 6 years old when this started happening to her and when she found out it was wrong, she was too scared.”

Kenney is facing the potential of decades in prison. Several of the charges against him are extended-term felonies that carry maximum sentences of as many as 30 years, according to court documents.

The start of the trial was delayed Tuesday morning because of the health of two of the 14 jurors seated for the trial. Both jurors were excused, leaving the minimum 12, 11 of whom are women.

The trial will resume Thursday.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).