Prosecutors: Woman had researched child-sex crimes

Christina Regusters is charged with kidnapping.
Christina Regusters is charged with kidnapping.
Posted: August 23, 2014

The woman accused of sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl last year after abducting her from a West Philadelphia elementary school researched child sex crimes on her personal computer, a city prosecutor disclosed Thursday.

The new allegations about Christina Regusters, 21, were detailed by Assistant District Attorney Erin O'Brien in a pretrial-motions hearing before Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart.

Minehart permitted O'Brien to use the evidence at trial over the objections of defense lawyer W. Fred Harrison Jr.

Also Thursday, the judge and lawyers completed jury selection with two final alternate jurors. The jury of 12, plus five alternates, will report Monday for the lawyers' opening statements and beginning of testimony in a trial Minehart said would take about three weeks.

Regusters is charged with kidnapping the girl from Bryant Elementary School at 6001 Cedar Ave. on Jan. 14, 2013.

Regusters allegedly donned full Muslim garb and walked into the school posing as an employee of a private after-school program that the girl attended a block away on South 60th Street.

Regusters allegedly took the girl to a house in the 6200 block of Walton Avenue, where the child was sexually assaulted before being released at a nearby Upper Darby park. The child was found the next day hiding under a sliding board.

Though the sexual assault resulted in the girl's hospitalization for serious physical injuries, she accompanied police to retrace her kidnapper's steps until she recognized the Walton Avenue house where she told police she was held.

After a grand jury investigation last year, O'Brien said authorities believed Regusters acted alone and was not part of a human-trafficking ring.

At that time, O'Brien's announcement was met with skepticism by Harrison and lawyers hired by the girl's family.

But on Thursday, O'Brien said a search of Regusters' personal computer showed that before the kidnapping, Regusters downloaded information about molesting children from the Internet.

O'Brien said the downloads included:

A Japanese anime cartoon depicting children being sexually assaulted.

Information about sexually assaulting children.

Information about covering up evidence of sexual assault and how long DNA from saliva might remain viable in a police rape kit.

Sites offering Muslim clothing.

O'Brien also said police developed information that Regusters allegedly molested a cousin's daughter who was about 7 years old.

Minehart rejected introducing the cartoon as evidence but let O'Brien use the other computer evidence.

Regusters, who has no prior criminal record, has pleaded not guilty and rejected a last-minute guilty plea offer from the prosecutor that would have sent her to prison for 40 to 80 years. If convicted, Regusters faces a life term.

Regusters, a native of Silver Spring, Md., was living with her aunt and other relatives in the Walton Road home after moving to Philadelphia a year earlier.

215-854-2985 @joeslobo

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