Tom Clark, Philadelphia Daily News, June 25, 2009
A teenage girl testified yesterday that her mother and a male family friend urged her to have sex with him when she was 9 years old in an effort to lift a curse on the family.
“This was something I had to do to help the people I was close to,” the 16-year-old told a Common Pleas jury yesterday. “The way I understood was that if I didn’t do this, bad things were gonna happen.”
Hector Ayala, 59, is charged with rape of a child and aggravated indecent assault in what allegedly began as what he said was a Santeria ritual and continued for years, eventually involving two of the girl’s friends.
The girl’s mother, whose name is being withheld to protect her daughter’s identity, is charged with conspiracy, sexual assault and related offenses for allegedly persuading her daughter and being present during several assaults.
Under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Leslie Gomez, the girl said that she was 9 when her mother told her that she had the power to lift a curse on the family by allowing Ayala to have oral sex with her.
The girl said that the notion of a curse seemed real at the time; her mother had just lost her job and her mother’s boyfriend recently had been sent to prison.