Judge mulls reducing Bodenweiser charges

Radio's Gaffney recalled to the stand
June 13, 2014
Attorneys for former state Senate candidate Eric Bodenweiser, shown here with his wife, Pattie, are seeking to reduce the 14 charges against him from first-degree unlawful sexual intercourse to third-degree. If the charges were reduced, Bodenweiser would no longer be facing a mandatory 15-year sentence on each charge. BY RON MACARTHUR

A Delaware Superior Court judge is weighing whether to reduce 14 charges against former state Senate candidate Eric Bodenweiser from first-degree unlawful sexual intercourse to third-degree.

Defense attorneys Joe Hurley and Eric Mooney and prosecutors David Hume and John Donahue met with Judge E. Scott Bradley after a short day of testimony June 10, the seventh day of the trial, to discuss reducing the charges.

If the charges were reduced, Bodenweiser would no longer be facing mandatory 15-year sentences on each count of unlawful sexual intercourse.

Bodenweiser is also charged with 14 counts of second-degree unlawful sexual contact.

After a week devoted primarily to testimony from Bodenweiser’s accuser, four witnesses elaborated on elements of the story.

Bodenweiser’s ex-wife, Ruth Bennett, testified she remembered the accuser as a boy who would often come over to the house to play and hang out. Bennett, who said she left Bodenweiser in October 1987, said Bodenweiser kept pornographic movies in the house. Bodenweiser’s accuser earlier testified that every time Bodenweiser abused him, a pornographic movie was playing. The accuser also testified the abuse began after Bennett left.

For the defense, a key point of Bennett’s testimony was her statement that her daughter and the accuser did not attend Frankford Elementary School, as the accuser had testified. She said her daughter went to Seaford Christian Academy and that her daughter never rode the bus to get there. The victim had testified that Bodenweiser’s daughter would wait at the bus stop in front of his home with the rest of the neighborhood kids.

Delaware State Police Detective John King testified about the timeline of interviews with Bodenweiser’s accuser. He said the victim first reached out to him Sept. 13, 2012. He said he had two more phone conversations with him before meeting him Oct. 1, 2012, in Florida, where the victim now lives.

Hurley used the Oct. 1 interview to contrast statements the victim made in the interview with his testimony on the witness stand. Among those were where the victim went to high school; he’d said he graduated from Polytech High School, but later admitted going to James Groves High School. In October, the victim also told King he did not know Bodenweiser’s estranged brother, Paul, but the defense produced email contact with him before the interview with King.

Hurley also said King’s interviews revealed the victim has given varied accounts about how many times Bodenweiser raped him, although King said the victim has always maintained it was twice.

Called back to the stand was radio talk show host Dan Gaffney, who reiterated the victim had called him on-air claiming to have been molested by Bodenweiser. New to Gaffney’s testimony was that Gaffney, against the request of King, had contacted Bodenweiser.

He said he told Bodenweiser that he had received a call from Florida saying something bad had happened between the caller and Bodenweiser. Gaffney said he did not go into detail about the allegations, but Bodenweiser said he did not touch anybody or do anything.

Gaffney testified he told Bodenweiser he had not mentioned anything sexual about the call, which Gaffney testified prompted Bodenweiser to respond, “That’s just where your mind goes when you hear of bad things with a man and a child.”

Mark Hickman, a neighbor of both Bodenweiser and his accuser, also testified. Hickman said he did not see the boy, then around 11 years old, ever go in or come out of Bodenweiser’s home.

Speaking after court, Hurley said he was not bothered by the fractured pace of the trial, which has featured three half-days and one day, June 5, where no testimony was heard at all.

“The state has the burden of putting it all in a nice package, and the more interruptions there are, the more difficult it is to put the package together,” he said.