An 18-year-old woman told a Westmoreland County jury on Tuesday that she became intimate with a New Stanton man over a three-month period in 2007, even though he claimed to be six years older than the teen.
In reality, James Crise was then 25. The girl was 15 at the time of the alleged sexual assaults.
The woman testified she and Crise engaged in numerous sexual encounters.
“It made me feel closer to him,” she told jurors.
Crise, now 28, faces charges of statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and related offenses in his relationship with the teen.
She testified she encountered Crise over the Internet and their friendship grew into a sexual relationship. Crise told her he was 21 years old, she said.
A traffic stop in Greensburg on July 2, 2007, alerted police to Crise’s relationship with two girls.
For nine months, the teen denied she had an intimate relationship with Crise, because he told her to lie, she said. But she eventually told a school guidance counselor in Feb. 27, 2008, because she had tired of lying, she told jurors.
Neither side addressed the witness’ visible pregnancy. The witness is not pregnant to Crise, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Richard Powell, 32, testified yesterday that on Feb. 24, 2008, Crise told Powell he had sexual relations with a 15-year-old girl.
Powell, who faces charges of theft and receiving stolen property, said Crise made his admission while they were confined at the county prison.
Crise, who is acting as his own lawyer, contends his accuser is lying about the sexual relationship.
He challenged prosecution witnesses, including several police officers, about the veracity of their investigation.
During that investigation, police seized two laptop computers containing photographs of Crise and his accuser kissing, and two pictures of the naked girl.
Judge Rita Hathaway admonished Crise about his questioning of witnesses, suggesting he was leading police officers to disclose information to the jury about unrelated evidence found on his personal computer.
That evidence, according to Assistant District Attorney Kelly Hammers, included pictures of Crise having sex with his aunt and “hundreds” of pornographic photographs of unidentified young girls.
“That is still being investigated,” Hammers told the judge, while jurors were out of the courtroom.
Last month, Crise was convicted of possessing child pornography involving the photographs of the girl in this case and a 13-year-old girl. Crise was convicted of taking pictures of the girls while they were bikini wrestling. He is awaiting sentencing on those offenses.
Crise called his former fiancee to testify yesterday.
Heather Safran, who said she broke off with Crise three weeks ago, said Crise had a platonic relationship with the 15-year-old in 2007.
“You were like a big brother to her,” Safran testified.
After Hammers showed the witness the naked pictures of the girl, taken from Crise’s computer, Safran conceded they were not indicative of a relationship between siblings.
Crise told Hathaway he will testify when the trial resumes this morning.