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Uniontown man found guilty of raping girl, now a teenager

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 11:29 p.m.

A Fayette County jury found a Uniontown man guilty of sexually assaulting a girl who is now 13 years old.

John Dale Stewart Sr., 64, testified in his own defense in the two-day trial, claiming that he was seldom alone with the girl and that they enjoyed watching movies together at his residence.

“Have you ever done these things people have alleged you have done to (the girl)?” asked defense attorney Brian Salisbury.

“No,” Stewart said.

“Did you touch her inappropriately?” Salisbury asked.

“No,” Stewart said.

Charges against Stewart included numerous counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault of a child and corruption of minors.

Assistant District Attorney Linda Cordaro said the jury deliberated about two and a half hours after the trial ended Wednesday afternoon, then returned with a guilty verdict.

The girl testified Tuesday before Senior Judge John F. Wagner Jr. that the man would undress and sexually assault her during visits to his residence from the time she was about 7 or 8 years old to age 11.

The Tribune-Review does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.

The girl said Stewart assaulted her “in my private area, below my waist.”

Her mother testified Wednesday that the girl had enjoyed visiting Stewart, up until 2011.

“I asked her if (Stewart) had ever touched her in a way that he shouldn't. She instantly cried. She said he had. I called 911,” the woman testified.

“Did you ever witness any kind of reaction in her that would cause you concern when Mr. Stewart would ask her to stay there?” Salisbury asked.

“No,” she said.

She acknowledged that Stewart's ex-wife or former girlfriend was in the home during the girl's visits.

Uniontown police Detective Donald Gmitter said he interviewed Stewart in September 2011. “I did not abuse her ever. I don't know why she said these things about me, because they didn't happen,” Stewart stated.

Gmitter testified there was no physical evidence of sexual abuse.

Stewart's former girlfriend, Lillian Arnold, and his former wife, Sheila Stewart, testified for the defense.

Arnold said she saw nothing questionable in Stewart's behavior toward the girl.

Sheila Stewart said she once asked the girl if she understood “good touch” and “bad touch,” because the girl was growing up. She said she worried she might have confused her.

Sheila Stewart testified she saw nothing inappropriate.

Salisbury argued to jurors there had been no testimony about the girl's grades or her school attendance slipping, or her losing interest in her friends, possible signs of abuse.

“She never said, ‘I don't want to go because (Stewart) is doing bad things to me,'” Salisbury said.

He said she had no time to recant her statement because police, Children and Youth Services and her family quickly became involved. At one point, her father confronted Stewart, he said.

“She was probably scared to death to recant her statement,” he said.

Cordaro advised jurors to not hold the girl to the same standard as an adult.

“These acts were committed when she was a child,” she said.

“Does it make sense to you that she would come in here and make up these events?” Cordaro said. “If you believe (the girl), you have to convict John Stewart for these crimes.”

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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