Victim testifies to sexual abuse in Mallo trial

REED CITY — After more than 20 years of silence, the victim in the Francis Brent Mallo sexual assault case testified Wednesday, coming forward to protect anyone else from potential abuse. Mallo, of Loudon, Tenn., formerly of Evart, is charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from incidents that allegedly took place in the early 1990s in the Evart area when the victim was 11 and 12 years old. If convicted of the charges, Mallo faces up to life in prison. Although the victim only recounted a few instances of sexual assault at the hands of Mallo in vivid detail, the victim stated the sexual abuse occurred numerous times over the course of about a year from 1991 to 1992. She stated there were times at Mallo’s home. There were times at her own home. There were times at Pineview Home, where Mallo and the victim’s mother were both working at the time. The sexual abuse started when the victim began babysitting Mallo’s children, she said. She would look after his children at both Pineview and at the Mallo residence in Evart. “He would come home frequently while I was babysitting and he would rape me,” the victim said as tears formed in her eyes. Mallo would call to check if the children were asleep and then come home, the victim testified. After he assisted in putting the children to sleep, he would begin to touch the victim all over her body, she said. The end result was always a sexual interaction, the victim testified. The first incident the victim recounted was at Mallo’s home and she described it as one of the worst times. Mallo came up behind the victim while she was laying on a sofa bed and began to assault her. In this instance, she remembered feeling all of Mallo’s weight on her and feeling like she was going to suffocate, she said. “He told me he was going to teach me about love and this is what you do when you take care of someone’s kids,” the victim said. The second assault the victim described for the court was while she was watching Mallo’s youngest child at Pineview. Mallo was a house parent for one of the houses at Pineview and assaults would take place in his living quarters, the victim said. “I remember he came into the room and was very aggressive one day,” she said. “He was standing over me and started kissing me and groping me under my clothes. Then he pulled up my skirt.” One of the last times the victim testified to was at her house, where Mallo showed up and she ran to her bedroom to hide because she was frightened. When she came out of her room, an assault began to take place as she sat on Mallo’s lap. The victim recalled being afraid someone would soon be home and would find out what was going on. “I remember saying, ‘Please don’t do this now,'” she said. “I went to get up and he grabbed my head, then forced me to perform a sexual act.” The victim testified she had been threatened by Mallo, and was fearful for her life, her family’s lives and the lives of Mallo’s own family members. When it came time for cross examination, the defense focused on the details surrounding the alleged assaults, such as what Mallo was wearing, which the victim did not always recall. Mallo’s attorney, Lisa Kirsch Satawa, also questioned why the victim did not yell for help if the children were in the home or if youth and staff were nearby at Pineview. “Couldn’t you have yelled for them or ran out of the room?” Kirsch Satawa asked referring to the incident at Pineview. “No, I wasn’t strong enough. No, I couldn’t move. No, I couldn’t defend myself from him. I was too broken,” the victim cried. Kirsch Satawa pointed out that although the victim had opportunities to speak with law enforcement about other traumatic events in her life in that time frame, she did not come forward with allegations against Mallo. Throughout therapy and counseling the victim never told anybody about what occurred with Mallo, until she called a hotline and was directed to the Osceola County Sheriffs Department in 2013. In a nearly four-hour long interview with an officer in the spring of 2013, the victim told her story about the sexual assault by Mallo for the first time. “I never talked about details until the interview,” the victim said. Kirsch Satawa said that the victim has previously characterized her memory as “fuzzy,” but the victim said she now has a better recollection of things. As cross examination was wrapping up, the victim stated her testimony was the truth. “And it’s a truth that you developed through years of putting pieces together?” Kirsch Satawa asked. “No, It’s a truth that took me years to be able to tell,” the victim replied.

To catch up coverage of this trial, read the following stories:

DAY 1 and 2: Jury selected, opening statements given in Mallo trial