By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — Opening arguments in the trial of a Haverhill woman charged with sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy are scheduled to begin today in Essex County Superior Court in Salem.
Heather Paltinavich, 21, who previously entered pleas of not guilty, is charged with two counts of statutory rape and has remained confined to her father’s home since her arraignment in superior court in February.
Her trial began yesterday with the selection of a jury. Opening arguments are expected to begin today.
On Oct. 15, 2012, Paltinavich was arrested and charged after she allegedly had sex twice with the boy. She was initially held at the women’s prison in Framingham, but later released when her father posted $3,000 cash bail. She was 20 at the time she was charged by police.
Paltinavich was later indicted by an Essex County Grand Jury, triggering her arraignment earlier this year in Salem Superior Court.
According to a police report, during the summer of 2012, Paltinavich sexually assaulted the boy twice in his family’s apartment in Haverhill. The boy’s mother reported the incidents to police that fall.
Paltinavich had been living with the boy’s family for six months and was paying to sleep on a couch in the apartment, according to court papers. She is accused of sexually assaulting the boy while she was drunk and living in the apartment.
The boy’s mother reported the alleged incidents to police after her son began suffering from a sexually transmitted disease, investigators said.
When the boy’s mother asked her son how he might have gotten the disease, he denied being involved in any sexual relationship. But the mother was so shocked by the test results that she mentioned it to Paltinavich. The next day Paltinavich abruptly moved out of the apartment, raising the suspicions of the boy’s mother, according to court papers.
The boy later broke down and told his mother he had sex with Paltinavich on the couch twice, investigators said. They said the mother was sleeping in her bedroom when the incidents happened.
Paltinavich is defended by Haverhill lawyer Scott Gleason. Assistant District Attorney James Gubitose is prosecuting the case.