Girl's testimony could prove decisive

The 12-year-old said the defendant touched her breast and thighs.

By Colleen Jenkins, Times Staff Writer
Published March 5, 2008

TAMPA - Prosecutors have long considered Lwane Mansell a danger to the community, saying he preyed on poor and immigrant children.

But they couldn't prove it.

Four times since 1990, allegations of sexual crimes by the 55-year-old Dover man went nowhere because victims refused to cooperate, were too young to testify or couldn't be located, prosecutors said. He served only probation for a lewd and lascivious act in the 1970s.

A 12-year-old girl's testimony could alter his fate.

On Tuesday, she told a jury that Mansell showed up at her Plant City trailer in December 2006 and offered to take her to Sunday school. He called himself a pastor.

He took her to his home instead, where she was allowed to feed, pet and ride his horse Ryker. He gave her clothes and a toy. The way he smiled at her during the visits "was kind of creepy," she recalled.

On her third visit, he asked for something in return, she said. He brought her into his bedroom, where he put his hands on her thighs and breast, she said. She asked to go home.

"He said he would pay me $50 to help with the horses and $10 to let him touch me," she said in a quiet voice from the witness stand. "He said not to tell anyone."

She told her mother anyway.

The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office charged him with luring or enticing a child, lewd and lascivious conduct and soliciting lewd and lascivious conduct.

Attorneys will give their closing arguments this morning.