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Sex abuse trial may hinge on victim's testimony

Lwane Allen Mansell was suspected in other assaults.

Lwane Allen Mansell was suspected in other assaults.

TAMPA — Prosecutors have long considered Lwane Mansell a danger to the community, saying he preyed on poor and immigrant children.

But they couldn't prove it.

Four times since 1990, allegations of sexual crimes by the 55-year-old Dover man went nowhere because victims refused to cooperate, were too young to testify or couldn't be located. He served only probation for a lewd and lascivious act in the 1970s.

A 12-year-old girl's testimony could alter his fate.

On Tuesday, she told a jury that Mansell showed up at her Plant City trailer in December 2006 and offered to take her to Sunday school. He called himself a pastor.

He took her to his home instead, where she was allowed to feed, pet and ride his horse Ryker. He gave her clothes and a toy. The way he smiled at her during the visits "was kind of creepy," she recalled.

On her third visit, he asked for something in return, she said. He brought her into his bedroom, where he put his hands on her thighs and breast. She asked to go home.

"He said he would pay me $50 to help with the horses and $10 to let him touch me," she said in a quiet voice from the witness stand. "He said not to tell anyone."

She told her mother anyway.

When a deputy went to question Mansell, he said, "I'll talk to you, but I won't tell you some things."

He said he had hugged the little girl but never fondled her.

The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office charged him with luring or enticing a child, lewd and lascivious conduct and soliciting lewd and lascivious conduct.

Attorneys will give their closing arguments this morning.

No matter what the verdict, Mansell won't be in the clear.

While out on bail, Mansell molested two other child­ren, prosecutor Dereck Capaz said. He had hired the children's father to cut his grass and, while babysitting the man's children, abused them, the prosecutor said.

Capital sexual battery and lewd and lascivious molestation charges were filed for that incident.

Colleen Jenkins can be reached
at cjenkins@sptimes.com or
(813) 226-3337.

Sex abuse trial may hinge on victim's testimony 03/04/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 6, 2008 5:22pm]
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