An 8-year-old Sonoma Valley girl testified Thursday that her great-uncle bought her toys, gave her beer and repeatedly molested her, often with family members in the house.
The girl took the stand in a preliminary hearing for Kenneth Hutchins, 64, of Boyes Hot Springs, who faces life in prison if convicted of child-sex charges stemming from his January arrest.
She told prosecutor Barbara Nanney that "Uncle Kenny" visited often over the past year, each time buying presents for her and her 14-year-old brother at a local toy store.
They would return to his or her house and play while the brother watched TV or played video games in another room, she said. On Jan. 15, the day Hutchins was arrested, she said the man molested her in both places.
"He told me to keep it a secret," she said in court.
But her brother had begun to grow suspicious, he later testified. He said on the day of the arrest he peeked in his sister's upstairs bedroom after hearing "a racket" and saw Hutchins on top of her, demanding a kiss.
"I was half freaking out at that point," he testified. "I closed the door."
He reported what he saw to his mother, Hutchins' niece, who was downstairs at the time in the middle of reading "The Hobbit" with him, he said.
She asked Hutchins to leave her apartment and called police, the boy said.
The boy also recorded a conversation with his sister about the incident on an iPad Touch and handed it over to detectives, he said.
Detective Scott Singleton of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office testified the girl had abrasions on her genitals that were consistent with the allegations. A search of Hutchins' home turned up child pornography videos, Singleton said.
The girl testified on cross-examination from defense attorney Amy Chapman that her brother encouraged her to come forward. But she said he didn't tell her to lie about anything.
After hearing the testimony, Judge Dana Simonds found there was enough evidence to try Hutchins on nine felony charges. The next hearing is scheduled for March 13.
Shelters for Pawnee fire evacuees
Lower Lake High School, 9430 Lake St., Lower Lake, is the official shelter established for people evacuating from the Pawnee fire. It is equipped to handle animals.
The Clearlake Oaks Moose Lodge, 15900 E. Highway 20, Clearlake Oaks, is not authorized by the Office of Emergency Services but is also sheltering fire evacuees, mostly people in campers and RVs who want their animals with them.
There is an authorized Lake County animal services station in an open field at Highway 53 and Anderson Ridge Road in Lower Lake.