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Woman lashes out at retrial in abuse case

Rich Cholodofsky
| Monday, May 14, 2012, 9:03 a.m.

Beth Anderson still loves her father.

But Anderson, 22, wants her father to go to prison for molesting her during six years of her childhood.

'Right now I'm afraid and angry. There is part of me - and I don't understand it - because he is my father, I love him. From an objective view I want him held accountable,' she said during an interview last week.

Her father, David Wilson, was convicted in November of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault and incest. He was sentenced to 15 to 55 years in prison and deemed a violent sexual predator under the state's Megan's Law.

Earlier this month he won a new trial when Westmoreland County Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. ruled that evidence Wilson's sister gave during that trial was prejudicial.

Karen Roadman testified that as a child, she too had been molested by Wilson.

While testifying as a character witness for her older brother, Roadman said that for years during her childhood she engaged in sex games with him.

Anderson said she is angriest about the reason McCormick gave for his decision to grant her father a new trial. And in the days after learning of the judge's decision, she has become even angrier.

'You're proven guilty, then you get all these chances to prove you are innocent,' Anderson said. 'I think the trial was fair. It was his screw-up. He's the one who messed up and he's getting a new trial. I'm the one who has to relive this.'

The Tribune-Review generally withholds the names of victims in sexual assault cases. But Anderson, who now lives in another county with her new husband, has gone public about her case in recent months. Earlier this year she gave a speech at a victims rights rally.

After learning that she must tell her story to another Westmoreland County jury, Anderson wanted to speak out about the case. The recent court decision overturning Wilson's conviction prompted her to be even more vocal about her ordeal, she said.

'It's his arrogance and his pride,' Anderson said. 'Right now I feel like I'm being raped over and over again. He got away with it for so long and now it seems like he's getting away with it again.'

During her father's trial, Anderson told jurors that when she was 5, in 1984, Wilson would sneak into her bedroom and perform sexual acts.

The molestations continued several times a week for the next six years, she testified. Wilson then threatened his daughter, she said, saying he would kill her, her mother, her brother and her cat, and burn down the family house if she ever came forward and told authorities about what was going on.

Anderson finally told her mother in 1997. Charges were filed against Wilson two years later.

At trial, Wilson denied the allegations. He suggested that his daughter suffered from delusions that falsely led her to believe she was being molested.

Because the allegations were more than 16 years old when the case went to trial, there was no physical evidence against Wilson. Jurors heard Anderson's testimony and considered other circumstantial evidence that suggested the abuse could have occurred.

Wilson's defense consisted of his own denials, as well as a series of character witnesses.

One witness was Roadman, who shocked the courtroom with her admission.

During a hearing last month, Roadman said she never would have testified had she known that she would be asked about past sexual encounters with her brother.

In granting the appeal, McCormick ruled that Wilson's former attorney, Francis Murrman, provided an inadequate defense in allowing Roadman to testify.

'The devastating revelations by Karen Roadman of sexual conduct between herself and the defendant while she was a minor and the defendant had reached his majority obviously greatly hindered the defendant's claims that he was innocent of the charges against him,' McCormick wrote in his four-page decision.

The judge ruled that Murrman should have learned about Wilson's sexual history with his sister had he properly investigated the case.

Assistant District Attorney Patricia Elliott said she is considering an appeal of McCormick's ruling.

Wilson remains in state prison. His new attorney, Chris Feliciani, filed a motion on Friday asking that Wilson be released from prison while he awaits his second trial. Wilson was freed on $50,000 bail before his last trial.

Feliciani said he agreed with McCormick's decision to grant the new trial, but declined to make any further comments about the case.

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