"He picked his victims because they are young and naive."
That's what Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer DeLand told the jurors about defendant Norvell T. McIntire as part of her rebuttal in her closing argument in a rape case Thursday.
Earlier, McIntire's attorney, Huron County Public Defender David Longo said the two victims' testimony isn't plausible because one of the girls took two months to report allegations of sexual assault to authorities, didn't immediately tell her parents and there was inconsistent testimony.
"You should acquit Mr. McIntire of both charges without hesitation," Longo said, referring to one count each of rape and gross sexual imposition for an incident involving a 14-year-old girl.
But the jurors decided otherwise after almost four hours of deliberation Thursday.
McIntire, 45, of Sandusky, was convicted of all five charges on which he was being tried. In addition to the rape and gross sexual imposition charges, the former Norwalk resident was found guilty of one felony charge each of attempted gross sexual imposition and importuning plus public indecency, a second-degree misdemeanor.
All the crimes happened in August before school started at the same house where local children hang out and was the residence of McIntire's girlfriend. The court referred to the offense with the older girl as the "upstairs incident" and the one involving the younger girl as "the couch incident."
"Everything was in a week or so of each other," DeLand said.
The older girl hugged her mother and father moments after Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway read the guilty verdicts. Then she stepped around and hugged DeLand. Her family declined to comment. The younger girl and her family weren't in court for the decision.
McIntire's expression never changed as the judge read the verdicts.
"I'm happy with the outcome. I think Jennifer did a great job, too," Norwalk Police Detective Sgt. Jim Fulton said.
The older girl was aware of the earlier couch incident, Longo said, so it makes no sense she'd go back to the same house where she knew McIntire would be -- even if she said she wanted to protect her younger sister who enjoyed playing with other children there.
"It's staggering," Longo told the jury.
The 14-year-old girl was upstairs with McIntire when nobody else was home.
DeLand said when the victim walked away from McIntire, he grabbed her arm, held both of her hands above her head and he used his other hand to put his palm on her chest and push the girl onto the couch.
"He told her, 'You like it.' He told her, 'Don't tell anybody," DeLand said, referring to McIntire fondling the girl while he held her down with his other hand.
DeLand said what started as an act of gross sexual imposition continued into a rape.
Before the couch and upstairs incidents, McIntire approached both girls, who are best friends, and asked them if he could touch their butts.
"We said no and walked away. When we walked away, he smacked our butts ... with his palm," she said.
"He was asking if he could touch our butts," the girl said. "He asked me twice. I thought he just wanted to smack it."
In the couch incident, the younger girl was sitting on a couch with McIntire when both of them were under a blanket due to the air conditioning. In the small living room were eight other children, most of whom were wrestling each other.
McIntire got up at one point, only to return to the couch. The victim testified McIntire sat down after untying his gym shorts, then pulled his pants open and she saw "blackness" out of the corner of her eye. McIntire is black and his accuser is white.
"He then grabbed her arm and tried to get her to touch his penis," DeLand said.
The girl testified she flexed her arm and pulled away from him. She said she then got off the couch and had two of her friends come to the bathroom with her and she told them what happened.
McIntire also had "nudged" the girl and said her name repeatedly to get her to see his private parts when they were on the couch, DeLand said. She explained to jurors that public indecency has less to do with where the offense happened and more to do with who could have seen it.
Longo said it doesn't make sense for McIntire to commit these offenses in a room full of people since most child molesters know they need their privacy "to get away with it."
"Maybe he didn't care," countered DeLand, who recalled McIntire laughed when he was arrested on the rape indictment.
"He was relaxed and joked with the officer," added DeLand, who asked the jurors if they thought those were the actions of an innocent man.
The prosecutor said the entire circumstances started out with McIntire soliciting the girls to touch their butts, "thought he got away with it" when he smacked their bottoms as the pair walked downstairs and then McIntire tried to have the younger girl touch his penis after having exposed himself to her. DeLand said the defendant took things even farther by sexually assaulting the older girl when she was in the house by herself.
"He told her when she was running out of the door, 'Don't tell anyone' -- the last words she heard from him," DeLand said.
McIntire, whose bond was revoked, will be sentenced June 20.