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December 3, 2013

Boy, 13, testifies about alleged rapes by woman, 20

SALEM, Mass. — A defense attorney yesterday tried to discredit the testimony of a 13-year-old boy who claims he was sexually abused by a 20-year-old woman living with him and his family in Haverhill last year.

The defendant, Heather Paltinavich, 21, of Haverhill, is accused of two counts of statutory rape. Her trial began Monday in Essex Superior Court with jury selection and opening remarks and testimony began yesterday.

Defense Attorney Scott Gleason of Haverhill tried to poke holes in the boy’s testimony. At one point the boy said he didn’t exactly know what was happening to his body at the time of the first alleged incident, which police said took place in June of 2012.

The boy testified he had a better understanding of what was happening the second time he had sex with the woman, which allegedly occurred several weeks after the first incident, and that he’d learned about it in health class.

“You said you learned about that sensation in body and health class, which didn’t occur until the fall,” Gleason told the boy. “So where did you learn about it?”

In his opening remarks, Assistant District Attorney James Gubitose asked the jury not to be surprised at the boy’s appearance as he is older now (13) and is taller than he was last year. When Judge Howard Whitehead asked the boy how tall he was, he said he is 5-foot-10.

During his opening remarks, Gubitose said it was a case of rape and that Paltinavich was drunk at the time and that the boy did not know what was happening.

Gleason told the jury that his challenge was to prove Paltinavich’s innocence.

“The hardest thing in the world to explain is when something did not happen,” Gleason said during his opening remarks.

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