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Salesman held for trial in rape

Thursday, July 11, 2002

By Jim McKinnon, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

A door-to-door salesman from Virginia was ordered to stand trial yesterday on charges that he raped a 14-year-old Dormont girl last month while she was baby-sitting.

The preliminary hearing was fraught with emotional pauses while a prosecutor, a victims' advocate and relatives tried to soothe and calm the girl as she clutched a Teddy bear. Throughout the proceeding, the teen-ager used her finger tips to press her eyelids in failed attempts to fight back the tears as she sobbed quietly.

On direct examination by Assistant District Attorney Nicola Taylor, the girl testified that Deon Bowens, 23, of Richmond, Va., carried her and a 1-year-old son of a family friend whom she was watching from the front porch to the living room.

Bowens laid her on the couch, pulled her shorts to the side and raped her, the girl said. All the while the small child remained in her arms until the attack was over. She squirmed from beneath Bowens, fell to the floor and went to the kitchen to cry while her attacker gathered his belongings and left the New Haven Avenue residence.

"I told him to leave me alone," the girl said, her head turned away from Bowens seated with a state constable half way across the Mt. Lebanon courtroom from her. Long, thick, red locks frequently hung to the side of her head, shielding her face from the accused.

"The whole time I was trying to squirm away," she testified. "I was telling him not to. I didn't scream too loud because I didn't want [her friend's 10-year-old son] to come in. He's only 10 and he didn't need to see something like this."

Only once or twice did Bowens sneak a glance in her direction, even when she pointed in his direction to identify him as her attacker. Instead, he stared, expressionless, straight ahead.

According to a police affidavit, Bowens had been selling cleaning products in Dormont on June 21 when he knocked at the New Haven Drive home. He convinced the girl to submit to a demonstration, but she requested that he do so from the front porch where she joined him.

He also got her to telephone her mother during the demonstration, but her mother rejected the offer, the girl testified.

With the demonstration complete, Bowens asked for a glass of water. The small child had been upstairs sleeping until them. She retrieved the boy, got the water and returned to the porch.

She said that she had dismissed Bowens and started toward the front door when he grabbed her from behind and carried her inside.

Bowens has claimed that the girl consented to have sex with him and that she was not wearing underwear when they met, said Assistant Public Defender Rebecca Calisti.

Calisti appeared frustrated during cross examination, prying for details and discrepancies in the girl's version of events with Taylor frequently objecting, citing the queries as irrelevant.

Many of the prosecution objections were sustained by Senior District Justice Leonard Boehm.

Under Calisti's questioning, the girl said that she waited two days before she told a girlfriend about the incident. That friend told her own mother and the three of them met the teen's mother at St. Clair Hospital, where she was examined.

Boehm ordered Bowens held on charges of rape, sexual assault and statutory sexual assault because the girl is underage.

Bowens was returned to the Allegheny County Jail, where he is being held on $110,000 bond.

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