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Hernando defendant Richard Lamerton denies sex abuse and child porn charges, blames women

BROOKSVILLE — Facing allegations from a teenage relative of sexual abuse and child pornography, Richard Lamerton took the stand Wednesday to deny everything.

The day before, the jury heard a 21-year-old woman describe how he sexually molested her twice and took nearly 100 explicit photos of her years ago, starting when she was age 15.

"I would never have done that," Lamerton said. "That would be abusing the trust."

The 50-year-old former Spring Hill resident spoke evenly, like a professor patiently correcting all the fallacies created by the woman and her mother in previous testimony. He often looked directly at the jury as he testified and squinted with one eye as he recalled events.

Attorneys are expected to make closing arguments today before the jury begins deliberating the eight sex charges against Lamerton, including sexual battery, lewd and lascivious molestation and numerous counts of child pornography.

Lamerton, a former respiratory therapist at the Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, faces a maximum 85 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Lamerton's attorney, Sean Cox of Clearwater, portrayed his client as a selfless man who did nothing wrong. Instead, he blamed the girl's mother.

"Do you know who took the photos?" Cox asked his client.

"That was (her mother)," Lamerton responded. "I respected the boundaries."

Lamerton went further to note the mother's desire to put naked photos of herself on the Internet and even suggested she once faced accusations that she molested her own daughter.

"I was what you call blindsided by (these charges)," Lamerton said.

Assistant State Attorney Brian Trehy objected at numerous points, calling the defense strategy a smear tactic. Under thorough questioning, the prosecutor made Lamerton retreat somewhat from his previous claims about the woman's mother.

Earlier in the day, investigators testified about how they found the nude or partially nude photos of the relative on two computers in Lamerton's home.

A computer forensic expert described how he found some of the photos hidden on Lamerton's computer in a system folder labeled "I386."

"It's not an area where anyone normally stores images," Detective Jeremy Ashton said. "I've never seen images in the I386 file before."

The expert used special software to find other nude photos on a different computer despite someone's attempt to delete them from the computer's trash folder. The explicit photos were purportedly taken when the girl was 15, 16 and 17. But the computer expert could not pinpoint a date for the photos.

The alleged victim told jurors that Lamerton took the photos to help her with her modeling portfolio. She came forward with the allegations in college at age 19 after keeping them secret for years.

Hernando defendant Richard Lamerton denies sex abuse and child porn charges, blames women 06/17/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 7:21pm]
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