Jury gets case of ex-school teacher accused of raping daughter for more than eight years

Posted: April 03, 2014

A PHILADELPHIA jury yesterday began weighing two clashing portrayals of a former public-school teacher on trial for allegedly raping his daughter over eight years.

At the time of his arrest last April, Sumo Dukulah, 40, was a teacher at L.P. Hill Elementary School, on Ridge Avenue near 32nd Street in Strawberry Mansion.

He was active in his church and tutored fellow West African immigrants in academic subjects, defense witnesses testified yesterday.

None said that they had ever seen the Liberian native act abusively toward his daughter or anyone else.

But in her closing argument yesterday, Assistant District Attorney Branwen McNabb cautioned the jurors not to be swayed by Dukulah's character witnesses.

"Child rape is not a spectator sport," she said. "This is something that happens in secret and behind closed doors."

During two days on the witness stand, Dukulah's daughter - whose name is being withheld - told the jury in graphic detail of how he began raping her when she was about 8 years old until she was 16. She reported him last April.

She spoke of how the stubble on his face felt when it rubbed against her pubic region, and of how he always used condoms or latex gloves and shopping bags to avoid ejaculating "that white stuff inside of me."

McNabb told the jury that the daughter's only motive in accusing and testifying against her father was truth. "She gains nothing by telling you these things. There's no pot of money," said the prosecutor, noting that the girl's mother had turned against her.

Dukulah, who is being held without bail, is charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and related counts. He began working for the school district in November 2011.

His attorney, Michael T. van der Veen, called the girl's allegations "fantastic" and likened them to the Salem, Mass., witch trials of the 17th century.

He said she told different stories to different people about the alleged rapes.

The jury is to begin its first full day of deliberations today.

On Twitter: @MensahDean

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