Former Delaware State Senate candidate Eric Bodenweiser faced his accuser June 2 in Delaware Superior Court in Georgetown.
The man who has accused Bodenweiser of sexually abusing him 25 years ago took the witness stand to testify about events he says took place when he was 10 and Bodenweiser was his neighbor.
Clad in a dark suit and green tie, the victim, now 37, testified candidly about what he says happened. He said his mother was his best friend; she worked for Bodie’s Dairy Market, a convenience store chain run by Bodenweiser’s family. The victim said his father was a Vietnam veteran and an alcoholic who was physically abusive to his mother and mentally and verbally abusive to him.
The victim described himself as an average, but chunky kid who did not fit in with the older kids in his Frankford development. He said his father ran the house like a drill sergeant and that he and his father clashed repeatedly.
The victim, who now has a shaved head and a beard, said Bodenweiser lived across the street with his wife and young daughter. He said he would help give heartworm medication to Bodenweiser’s black labs. In late 1986 or early 1987, the victim said, Bodenweiser’s wife left him, but he continued to go to Bodenweiser’s house to take care of the dogs and to help Bodenweiser work on his race car.
“He was pretty cool to a 9-year-old kid,” the victim said.
The interactions with Bodenweiser changed when Bodenweiser invited the boy into his home. The victim said inside the house, Bodenweiser had pornographic movies on the television; they would be playing when he entered or were put on after he came in. He said Bodenweiser asked him what he thought about the movies; he testified that he thought they were funny looking.
The victim said at one point, while watching a pornographic movie, he became aroused and ran to the bathroom, embarrassed.
Bodenweiser came through the door, which had no lock, and asked the boy what he had in his hands. He said Bodenweiser touched him and then exposed himself. The victim said Bodenweiser grabbed him by the back of the head and forced him to perform oral sex.
They went back to the living room, where the victim said Bodenweiser again forced him to perform oral sex. On the stand, the victim paused, took a breath, and said, “He finished.”
The victim said Bodenweiser told him not to say anything about what happened. Referring to his mother's work for Bodie’s Market, the victim said Bodenweiser told him, “I can make it harder on you.”
The victim stayed away from Bodenweiser’s home for a time, but then went back. He said this time, Bodenweiser forced him to perform oral sex, then took him to the living room, where Bodenweiser made him get on his hands and knees. He said Bodenweiser then raped him.
“It was excruciating,” he said.
The victim said Bodenweiser snickered about this encounter and told the boy, mockingly, that he’d just had an AIDS test and was positive. He said after the incident, Bodenweiser would imply what happened in front of other kids in the neighborhood. The victim said he did not say anything to his parents out of fear and embarrassment.
He said he went back to Bodenweiser’s house again several months later. He said Bodenweiser again had pornography on the television and forced him to have sex.
“I trusted him, and it continued to happen,” the victim said.
The final abuse, he said, came after the victim had tried out for his junior high school football team. He said for a few weeks before tryouts, he had talked with Bodenweiser, who had also played football as a youth. He said he wore his practice jersey to Bodenweiser’s house to get Bodenweiser’s approval. The victim said Bodenweiser put on a pornographic movie.
“I knew what was going to happen,” he said.
The victim said he did not tell his parents what had happened until he was 17 years old. The family agreed not to talk about it ever again. It wasn’t until 2012, when Bodenweiser unseated incumbent Joe Booth for the Republican nomination for the 19th Senate District seat, that he decided to come forward.
“I was tired of running from this. Tired of dealing with it. I didn’t want him to be in another position of power to do something to another kid,” the victim said.
Call to radio show
After initially contacting Delaware State Police but feeling he wasn’t getting anywhere, the victim said he left a comment on WBOC-TV's Facebook page and then contacted radio host Dan Gaffney. The victim said Gaffney told him to stop talking, and the two talked off-air. Shortly after that, the victim said he was contacted by Delaware State Police Detective John King, who interviewed him in Florida.
The victim said he also spoke with Bodenweiser’s estranged brother, Paul, who kept a blog and, according to defense attorney John Hurley, “hates his brother’s guts.” The victim said he received $100 in the mail from Paul Bodenweiser, but he did not testify as to what the money was for. He said he did not receive any other money from Paul Bodenweiser.
Cross-examination of the victim is scheduled to begin June 3, Hurley said. He said he did not cross-examine the victim June 2 because his story on the witness stand was inconsistent with his original statements. While he said he would save what those inconsistencies are for the courtroom, Hurley said the victim’s mother worked for Bodie’s for only nine days.
During the victim's testimony, Bodenweiser sat expressionless, facing his accuser, occasionally jotting notes. Bodenweiser faces 14 counts of first-degree unlawful sexual intercourse and 14 counts of second-degree unlawful sexual contact. The trial began May 30 in Sussex County Superior Court before a jury of seven women and five men.
Defense pounces on friend’s testimony
Prosecutors also called Amie Errickson, a friend of Bodenweiser's accuser, to the stand. She said when they were in ninth grade, the victim told her that he had been sexually abused. Errickson said the victim did not tell her who had abused him, only that it was a man.
Errickson said she and the victim were like brother and sister, even referring to themselves that way on Facebook.
On cross-examination, Hurley jumped all over Errickson’s testimony, pointing out inconsistencies in her statements to police and then in testimony. In court, Hurley said, Errickson and the victim talked about sexual abuse, but she told King that the victim said he had been touched.
Errickson also said she and the victim had not discussed the case, but Hurley pressed her, and she admitted she had discussed being contacted about testifying by the victim on Facebook. Errickson also admitted she and the victim rode together to the courthouse June 2. Afterwards, Hurley scoffed at the notion that they had not discussed their testimony with one another.
Also testifying was Gaffney, the radio host who took the on-air call from the victim claiming Bodenweiser molested him. Gaffney said he told the victim to call his office line off-air, and they talked over the phone a day or two after the victim’s original on-air call. Gaffney testified the victim had referred to Bodenweiser’s house as a mobile home. Gaffney also testified he referred the victim to police after hearing about the victim’s first sexual encounter with Bodenweiser.