Trial of woman accused of abducting and raping girl delayed until Monday

This surveillance video image shows a person in a burqa, allegedly defendant Christina Regusters, entering Bryant Elementary.
This surveillance video image shows a person in a burqa, allegedly defendant Christina Regusters, entering Bryant Elementary.
RegustersGALLERY: Regusters
Posted: August 22, 2014

THE TRIAL of Christina Regusters, the slight-built young woman accused of the brutal sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl after allegedly kidnapping her from school last year, was delayed yesterday because two jurors had to be replaced for undisclosed reasons.

Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart rescheduled opening arguments for Monday morning, and ruled on a handful of prosecution motions seeking to admit evidence during the trial.

The motions, filed by Assistant District Attorneys Erin O'Brien and Jessalyn Gillum, shed light on the possible motive of Regusters, 21, who was 19 when arrested in February 2013 and has marked two birthdays in jail, unable to pay $4 million in bail.

Regusters will be tried for aggravated assault, kidnapping, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and related crimes.

She is accused of going to Bryant Elementary in Cobbs Creek on Jan. 14, 2013, dressed in a face-covering Muslim burqa - similar to that worn by the victim's mother- and taking the girl from school to another location, where she assaulted her orally, anally and vaginally. The girl's injuries were so severe that reconstructive surgery was required, according to court filings.

The girl, who was enrolled at an after-school day-care center where Regusters worked, was found abandoned in an Upper Darby Park wearing only a T-shirt the following morning. DNA on the shirt helped police link Regusters to the crime.

Minehart affirmed that prosecutors could tell the jury that Regusters allegedly fondled a 7-year-old female cousin, who is now 11.

The judge said prosecutors could also present evidence that Regusters used her home computer in the days before the assault and afterward to search how to buy Muslim clothing, how to destroy DNA evidence, to learn if DNA is contained in saliva and to keep abreast of news about the kidnapping and police investigation.

Minehart, however, barred prosecutors from presenting evidence that Regusters spent the months, days and hours leading up to the kidnapping visiting animated child porn websites.

Known as Hentai - a Japanese term that describes any type of perverse or bizarre sexual desire or act - the videos Regusters watched depicted graphic sex acts and bondage scenes, O'Brien said.

Regusters visited one animated porn site 100 times and visited others dozens of times, said O'Brien, who told Minehart that this evidence would establish that the defendant had a sexual interest in a young female.

"There is no other reason to visit these websites but to derive sexual gratification," O'Brien said.

But defense lawyer W. Fred Harrison Jr. disagreed, saying, "I just don't see what the relevance is about the cartoons.

"People watch things all the time. That doesn't mean they go out and do things," he added.

"It's horrible," Minehart said while viewing photographs printed from one of the websites.

But it won't be allowed into the trial, he said, because animated child pornography is not illegal in Pennsylvania, and the fact that someone watched a video does not constitute evidence.

The victim, who is now 7, is expected to testify during the trial. Prosecutors had requested that she be allowed to testify via closed-circuit television, but O'Brien withdrew that motion during yesterday's hearing.


On Twitter: @MensahDean

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