Bodenweiser attorneys aim to discredit alleged victim

Date Published: 
June 13, 2014

The State of Delaware has rested its case Wednesday morning against former state senate candidate Eric Bodenweiser, who is charged with 14 counts of first-degree unlawful sexual intercourse and 14 counts of second-degree unlawful sexual contact.

Throughout the trial, defense counsel Joe Hurley and Eric Mooney have highlighted what they say are inconsistencies in the alleged victim’s account of abuse by Bodenweiser, which allegedly took place when the victim was 10- to 13-years-old, at Bodenweiser’s former Frankford-area home.

Delaware State Police Detective Jonathan King testified that, until a recent interview with the prosecution, the alleged victim had stated that Budweiser had forced penetrative sex on him twice. In an interview last month, the accuser stated that there was one instance where he had penetrated Bodenweiser.

King testified that he hadn’t heard of the incident until it was stated in the May interview and in the courtroom. Hurley played video of the Oct. 1, 2012, interview, focusing with the alleged victim about other details of the alleged abuse.

“Take your time. Be as detailed as you can. I don’t want to rush anything out of you. I want to get it right… Details are significant,” stated King to the alleged victim.

King also asked the man, “Any other incidents you recall? Anything else specific?”

“No,” he replied.

During that interview, the alleged victim also stated that he had never met Paul Bodenweiser, Eric Bodenweiser’s older brother.

“No, I never met the man.”

However, last week, the alleged victim testified that he had sent Paul Bodenweiser an email on Sept. 13, 2012, from a former girlfriend’s email account.

“Paul, I’m not sure if you remember me… This lowlife of the human molested me… I’d like to assist you in any way.”

James Stewart, lifelong friend of Eric Bodenweiser, testified that he knew there was tension between Bodenweiser and his older brother Paul.

“There’s some difficulty there, I would say, definitely.”

On Wednesday, Sandra Stewart, who lived in Bodenweiser’s Frankford home from February to June 1990 with her now-husband, James, testified that there was not a tanning bed in the home when she initially moved in.

“It was there sometime in the spring, because I remember using it,” she said. “As soon as you walked in through the front door, you were looking at it.”

Stewart’s husband, James, also testified that the tanning bed was not in the Frankford residence until the spring of 1990 and could only be placed in the living room in order to reach the only 220-volt outlet in the home.

Bodenweiser’s accuser had alleged that one instance of sexual abuse occurred in Bodenweiser’s master bedroom, after he had been using the tanning bed in the bedroom in the nude.

Linda Vanderwende, who works as an office manager for the Poly Tech Adult Education Program, testified that the alleged victim had applied to attend the James H. Groves School, located on the Poly Tech campus, and took a placement test, but certified records showed he did not attend or graduate from the program.

Last week, the victim had testified that he graduated from James H. Grove, after the prosecution questioned his October 2012 statement to King that he had graduated from Lake Forest and his court testimony that he graduated from Poly Tech High School.

Kelly Truitt, a supervisor who has been employed by Bodie’s Dairy Markets — owned by Bodenweiser’s family — for more than 30 years was also called to testify by the defense counsel.

Truitt testified that Bodie’s employment records show that Bodenweiser wrote a letter of recommendation for the alleged victim’s mother to work at one of the family’s convenience stores. She added that, at the time, Bodenweiser was employed as a cashier at one of the markets. She stated that there was an incentive program for employees who referred new employees to the stores.

According to Truitt, the markets’ records reflected that the victim’s mother applied to the market on June 5, 1986, and was hired June 10, 1986, and that the employment ended June 19, 1986. The records noted that she was employed for nine calendar days but left to take employment elsewhere.

In previous interviews and testimony, the alleged victim stated that he did not disclose the abuse to his parents because he was worried for his mother’s job at the market. The alleged victim testified in court that his mother had been employed by Bodie’s for approximately one year, after he reviewed her paystubs. The alleged victim was asked by the court to produce that the documentation; however, it was not produced.

The alleged victim said during his testimony that he continued to return to Bodenweiser’s home after the first incident of abuse because he thought it was better than being at home with his father.

Earlier this week, Eric Bodenweiser’s ex-wife, Ruth Bennett, who lived with him in the Frankford home just prior to when the alleged abuse took place, said that she remembered the alleged victim as a short, stocky boy with dark hair, “smiling a lot, kind of shy.”

Bennett testified that her daughter, Bo, whom the alleged victim said he met on the bus while going to Frankford Elementary School, never attended the school.

“She never went to Frankford Elementary,” said Bennett, stating that her daughter had attended Seaford Christian Academy.

Bennett also testified that there had not been a tanning bed in the home while she was living with Bodenweiser. Bennett said she left the home in October of 1987.

Radio personality Dan Gaffney also testified this week that he had spoken to the alleged victim in September 2012, first on-air and then off-air, about the abuse.

Gaffney said he spoke with King within a day or two of the interview, when he asked King if he could contact Bodenweiser.

“I felt like I needed to tell him,” said Gaffney, adding, “[King] didn’t want me to do it, told me I should not.”

Gaffney said King’s request was “just his opinion,” and he had still contacted Bodenweiser, telling him a man was accusing him of doing something “bad.”

According to Gaffney, who testified that he did reveal any details of the allegations to Bodenweiser, Bodenweiser responded, “I never touched anybody.”

Last week, Hurley filed a motion for a voir dire hearing, arguing that the alleged victim had been coached on how to speak to the jury.

“The clasping of the hands, the rotation of the body, the eye sweep of the jury and the modulation of the voice are all hallmarks of training,” he said.

Although there was a brief hearing regarding that motion, it was not discussed with the jury.

On Tuesday afternoon, Hurley requested that the 14 counts of first-degree unlawful sexual intercourse filed against Bodenweiser be reduced in number and degree. As of Coastal Point’s Wednesday deadline, Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley had yet to make a ruling on that motion.

According to Hurley, closing arguments are expected as early as Friday.

For updates on the trial, visit www.coastalpoint.com.