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  1. #1
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Default Stuart Fla--This is unbelievable

    Retired firefighter denies raping two women in 1960s
    By Jim Ash

    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

    Wednesday, April 27, 2005

    STUART — With charges of child sexual abuse dating to the Lyndon Johnson administration and not a scrap of physical evidence, the case against 68-year-old retired Martin County firefighter Billy Banks Sr. appears more Cold Case than CSI.

    Unlike their fictional TV counterparts, Martin County prosecutors had to rely Tuesday almost entirely on the testimony of the alleged victims — two women, ages 44 and 43 — who described a nightmare of fondling, oral sex and rape that they said lasted between the ages of 6 and 10.



    Meghan McCarthy/The Post

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    Billy Banks listens to opening arguments Tuesday in his child sex-abuse trial at the Martin County Courthouse.
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    "He told me not to tell or I would be taken away and never see my mother again," one of the women testified, frequently breaking into sobs.

    Banks, silver-haired and confined to a wheelchair, faces life in prison if convicted of the charges, 10 counts of "carnal knowledge" with a child younger than 10 — as the ambiguously written law defined the crimes in the 1960s.

    In the first day of a two-day trial, his attorneys quickly pounced on the lack of fingerprints, physical examinations, DNA or witnesses.

    "These are allegations that are 35 years ago," defense attorney Deborah Gowen told the jury in her opening arguments. "There is no one who will come in here and testify to witnessing these acts other than the alleged victims."

    After presenting the testimony of the accusers, whom The Palm Beach Post is not naming to protect their identities, and a Martin County sheriff's sex-crimes investigator who took an initial victim statement, the state rested its case.

    In her opening statements, Gowen suggested that the women were enticed into making the allegations by counselors and psychologists they consulted for help with their broken lives only a few years ago — counselors who suggested child sex abuse.

    One of the alleged victims made the charges after she was arrested on a crack-cocaine charge and underwent intensive counseling for drug addiction. The other, disabled by back problems and a chronic nerve disease, was treated for depression. She takes powerful painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs.

    "These problems in their lives are what caused the allegations, not the other way around," Gowen said.

    The defense lasted less than an hour, with Banks providing the only rebuttal. He denied the allegations.

    The two women testified they were forced to watch each other being raped by Banks on the front seat of his pickup parked in rural Martin County.

    Banks denied seeing the girls together and said he didn't own a pickup until 1975. At the time of the alleged rapes years before that, Banks said he drove a modified Jeep with bucket seats.

    "It was an old strip-down," he said. "I took out the back seat."

    One of the women testified she was fondled in a shower stall, but Banks challenged that, saying his home had only a claw-foot tub.

    Banks also rebutted a letter he wrote to one of the alleged victims from the Martin County jail, in which he said he was sorry if he ever "hurt" the woman, but made no admission of guilt.

    "I didn't know what I done, but anything I done I would be sorry for," he said.

    Banks, the patriarch of a large Martin County family, moved to South Carolina in 1991.

    The four-women, two-man jury will hear final arguments in the case at 9:30 a.m. today at the Martin County Courthouse
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


  2. #2
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Retired firefighter found guilty of molestation
    By Jim Ash

    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

    Wednesday, April 27, 2005

    STUART — Retired firefighter Billy Banks, Sr., the 68-year-old patriarch of a large Martin County family, faces the possibility of life in prison after a jury convicted him today of sexually molesting two children in the 1960s.

    The four-women, two-man jury sided with two middle-aged victims who gave tearful testimony about years of sexual abuse they claim to Banks inflicted on them as young children during the height of the Vietnam War.

    Silver-haired and confined to a wheelchair, Banks hung his head quietly as the clerk read the verdict and repeated "guilty" for each of the 10 charges of "unlawful carnal knowledge" with a child, the definition of the law at the time.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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