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    Other kids testify during abuse trial

    A brother and sister say a former YMCA worker touched and kissed them, and they didn't like it.

    By CURTIS KRUEGER, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published January 31, 2002


    LARGO -- Every time the boy slept over at Christopher Lee Allen's apartment, the boy says, something bad happened after he stepped out of the shower.

    Allen, who was the St. Petersburg Family YMCA'S outreach director, would sweep into the bathroom when he heard the boy shut off the water. The boy would be wearing a towel around his middle.

    The boy testified on Wednesday that Allen insisted on drying him off and kissing his face during those sleepovers about two years ago, in the apartment Allen shared with his wife, Jennifer.

    "Or he would pull the towel down a little bit and kiss me below the waistline," the boy added.

    The boy, now 14, and his 11-year-old sister testified Wednesday in the trial of Allen, 27, who faces a possible life sentence on two charges of sexual battery on a child under 12.

    The trial concerns a different child, a girl who is now 13. That girl already testified for two full days.

    Allen has not gone to trial in connection with the allegations concerning the brother and sister. But the two were allowed to testify because of a recent change in Florida law that gives prosecutors wider latitude to bring in evidence of similar crimes in child sex cases.

    Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley told jurors to listen to the brother and sister and use their testimony to evaluate the credibility of other witnesses in the case.

    The boy said he felt "a little scared" and "uncomfortable" about Allen's behavior, but he did not insist that Allen stop because "I was scared of what he might say or something."

    Instead, he thought of a trick: leaving the water running in the shower while he dried himself off, so that he would be finished when Allen came in. But Allen would still dry him off some more, the boy said.

    Under cross-examination by defense attorney Kelli Crabb, the boy said he was not naked when Allen came in and that Allen did not kiss him on his genitals.

    The boy used to live in French Villas, a public housing complex north of St. Petersburg where Allen established a YMCA program.

    Earlier, his sister testified that Allen rubbed her stomach while she and Allen were lying on a couch at a YMCA center in the Lealman area. She said she could feel his hand shaking as he rubbed her, coming "two inches or an inch" away from her breasts.

    "I didn't like it," she said. She said she also disliked it when he kissed her face, including her lips. Under cross-examination, she said the kissing and rubbing occurred in the open, with others around.

    Allen was hired by the St. Petersburg Family YMCA and assigned to work with children even though he was facing charges of fondling two girls in South Carolina. Allen told the YMCA of the pending charges, of which he was later found not guilty.

    In other testimony Wednesday, members of the 13-year-old girl's former foster family said Allen lavished her with gifts, including furniture, shoes and clothes. They acknowledged that he also bought gifts for others, sometimes with his wife.

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