BENTON -- A Butler County jury convicted a Scott County resident of first degree statutory sodomy in a case involving the sexual abuse of a 4-year-old child.
Christopher Perigo, 34, of Miner was found guilty after the jury deliberated approximately two hours on Dec. 19. Circuit Judge Mark Richardson ordered a sentence advisory report with sentencing set for February.
The case began Aug. 3, 2006, when Miner Police were called to Highway AA with a report of a child being locked out of a trailer. When officers got to the trailer, no one answered the door, however officers heard a child inside. Upon entering the trailer, they found a 18-month-old child inside and Perigo passed out on the floor. A 4-year-old child, who was locked out, was at a neighbor's trailer.
During the investigation, officers began to suspect the older child may be a victim of sexual abuse. According to a news release from Scott County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Boyd, the child "indicated to the officers that she had to go 'pee-pee but it hurt."
During a forensic interview by the SEMO Network Against Sexual Violence, the child told interviewers that Perigo was sticking his "ring finger in where no one was supposed to touch and it hurt."
Miner officers interviewed a number of neighbors and two other girls and an adult reported the child had also told them of the father's action.
At the trial, these witnesses testified as well as the child who told the court the touching occurred when her mother was at work and the father was home with her and her sister. Also the child testified that she had told her mother, but the mother did not believe her.
During cross examination by Boyd, the mother said while the child had mentioned she had been touched, she said the child also changed her story.
Perigo, who took the stand in his own defense, testified he may have injured the child when she fell out of the bathtub. Also he denied being drunk when he was found by Miner police.
Sgt. Rhonda Elder testified that Perigo was drunk, couldn't walk well when roused awake and subsequently blew a .179 blood alcohol count at the station.
"If Perigo is willing to lie about little things, he surely will lie about something big like touching a child inappropriately," Boyd told the court. Also he noted that Perigo had an extensive criminal history including burglary, stealing, driving while intoxicated, making false reports and resisting arrest.
"According to juror comments, the jurors didn't believe Perigo's story about the child falling out of the tub," said Boyd. "But for the quick and thorough work of Miner officers Lana Cooper, Sgt. Rhonda Elder and Captain Darrin Skinner finding other witnesses to the child's words, this little girl's tragedy may never been discovered."
Boyd is seeking a 30-year-sentence for Perigo.
"Children don't have the life experience or the language to always express what is going on in their lives.
Boyd continued:?"Children may have problems explaining things they don't actually understand but they know they don't like such as inappropriate touches. As adults, we need to take the time and learn to listen to the children so we can determine what they are trying to tell us."