A Hays man was bound over for arraignment Friday afternoon on sexual assault charges involving two teenage girls and was awarded a continuance Friday morning on a previously scheduled trial on another case.
Two girls, now ages 16 and 17, testified in a preliminary hearing Friday for Andrew Bayle Claude, 20, who is charged with criminal sodomy and aggravated indecent liberties with a child from a December incident involving the 16-year-old and a charge of aggravated sexual battery from an incident in March involving the 17-year-old.
In July, Claude pleaded not guilty in a separate case to three counts of aggravated criminal sodomy of a child under 14 and two counts of rape of a child under the age of 14 involving two girls who were 13 at the time of the alleged incident.
Friday morning, District Court Judge Glenn Braun granted a motion to continue the trial in that case until December or January to give his attorney, Cheryl Stewart, time to prepare.
Stewart was appointed to the case at the beginning of August, taking over from Claude’s original appointed attorney, Kip Johnson. He withdrew from representing Claude, citing a too-heavy caseload to take on the second set of charges and saying it was in Claude’s best interest to be represented by one attorney on both cases.
Claude remains in the custody of the Ellis County Jail. During Friday’s hearing, he was allowed to have one hand free of the handcuffs to take notes. He did so during the testimony of the two girls and Hays Police Department Investigator Joshua Burkholder and Detective David Bunger.
In Friday’s preliminary hearing, the 16-year-old was emotional and hesitant as she began her testimony. After just a few minutes, Magistrate Judge Richard Flax called a five-minute recess, as the girl was speaking too softly for the microphone to pick up her voice. With some help from Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees she was able to compose herself and her testimony continued. At times, though, she was hesitant, unsure of how to describe some of the alleged sexual acts of Dec. 21.
The girl said she had been acquainted with Claude for about a month through Snapchat, a multimedia messaging app, then they met in person for a few minutes before the Dec. 18 Hays High School winter concert.
The next day they went to the Golden Q together to eat, and then on Dec. 21, Claude contacted her wanting to hang out. On that day, she said, they went to Big Creek Crossing, where Claude did some Christmas shopping for his family then they went to his house nearby.
The girl testified she thought Claude wanted to leave his packages at his house rather than taking them when they went to see a movie later. At his house, he took the girl to his basement bedroom and wanted to cuddle, she said. She did, and they made out, but she said she tried to stop it several times.
She then testified the two engaged in sexual activity.
Under questioning from Drees, the girl said she had told Claude the second time they met her age and he had told her his age. She was 15 at the time; he was 19.
Under cross examination from Stewart, the girl said she thought she had saved the Snapchat conversations with Claude on her phone, but police had not asked for copies.
Stewart asked if any of the snapchats were sexting — sending nude pictures through texts or messages. The girl said she thought so, and admitted she had sent him nude pictures of herself.
The 17-year-old girl testified that she resisted Claude’s advances, but ended up in his bedroom, where he prevented her from leaving, tried to kiss her and force himself on her, spoiling her shirt he had taken off her and thrown on the floor.
The girl said she had known Claude for about a year, connecting through a friend on Facebook. They also messaged through Snapchat.
On March 17, she said, he contacted her about hanging out, and they drove around Hays. She had to purchase some items at Walmart and he asked to go with her. When she later took him home, they talked for awhile parked outside. She was in the driver’s seat with the door open, and he sat on the ground in front of her.
He asked her to come inside, but the girl said she repeatedly told him no. She said he took her by the wrist and led her inside his house and into his bedroom, where he wanted to play video games.
As she sat on a beanbag chair, he put his hand under her shirt.
“I was OK with it because he put it on my stomach, not near my breast,” she said.
But when he began to get more intimate, she moved his hand and told him no and that she wanted to leave. He pulled her to his bed and unbuttoned his pants and tried to coerce her to touch him.
She said she pulled her hand away and told him she was leaving, but when she got up, he jumped in front of her and stopped her, telling her he wouldn’t let her go until he got a kiss.
The girl said she again said no, and he pulled down his pants. He blocked her again from leaving the room, pulled off her shirt and when she tried to grab it, he teased her with it, eventually throwing it on the floor.
She said was able to grab her shirt and leave after that. She went to her boyfriend’s house but didn’t tell him what had happened, she said.
She said about two weeks later, she told a couple of friends about the incident, and then told her parents.
Drees introduced into evidence a copy of her hand-written statement to the police, in which she describes his sexual acts toward her.
In cross examination, Stewart focused some of her questions on why the girl did not take opportunities to leave.
She asked the girl why she didn’t close her car door before Claude took her by the wrist.
“I was trying to be nice,” she said.
Stewart further questioned the girl why she didn’t call 911, since she had her phone with her, or why she didn’t grab one of Claude’s shirts from the floor of his room and leave when he was holding her shirt away from her. The girl said she didn’t know.
Under further questioning from Stewart, the girl said she and Claude had gone out together three times, including once when he was at her home outside of Hays and they had sex in her bedroom. As questioning continued, the girl said the sex was not consensual, but she had not reported it.
Near the end of her cross examination, Stewart asked the girl if she was in forensics in school. She said yes.
Stewart then asked “Is that when you learned to act?”