65-year-old's sex-assault trial starts

NASHUA – The trial began Tuesday for a 65-year-old Milford man accused of repeatedly molesting a girl, starting more than 15 years ago, when she was in first grade.

Albert Demello Jr., 65, faces four counts of felonious sexual assault, each punishable by up to 3-1/2 to seven years in prison, and an aggravated felonious sexual assault charge, which carries a maximum of 7-1/2 to 15 years.

Demello spoke with Milford police detectives after the young woman first reported the alleged assaults in 2006, and he denied assaulting her, lawyers said. He has been free on bail while awaiting trial.

The charges allege that Demello molested the girl, now 21, on various occasions from 1993 through 1999, at his home and her home. Both Demello and the girl’s family lived at various times in Milford and Brookline during the 1990s, the prosecutor, First Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Roger Chadwick, told jurors during his opening statement.

The girl knew Demello, but The Telegraph’s policy of not identifying the victims of sexual assault precludes reporting details of their relationship.

“The weapons in this crime are right here in the courtroom,” Chadwick said. “They are Mr. Demello’s own hands.”

Chadwick told jurors they could expect to hear testimony from the alleged victim, family members and police. Demello isn’t expected to testify, Chadwick said, though Judge William Groff cautioned jurors not to draw any conclusions from that.

Jurors will also not see any physical or forensic evidence or hear of any admissions, one of Demello’s lawyers, public defender John Newman, noted during his opening statement.

As with so many sexual assault cases, the charges against Demello come down to a contest of credibility and whether jurors believe the young woman’s testimony, lawyers said. Newman argued she’s lying.

“She wants to get attention. She wants people to feel badly for her,” he told jurors. “One day, essentially out of the blue, she fabricated a false allegation of sexual assault.”

“How do you defend against a charge that something happened between eight and 15 years ago?” Newman asked. “What can you do?”

Chadwick said the young woman first reported the allegations as an adult, contacting police herself. She told no one of the alleged abuse at the time, not even her parents, he said.

“She never told anyone because she was afraid, confused,” Chadwick said.