|Zimmerman Lawyer Tried to Block Accusation|
|By MATT GUTMAN (@mattgutmanABC) , SENI TIENABESO (@seniABC) and CANDACE SMITH (@CandaceSmith_)||Jul 16, 2012, 11:56 AM|
A lawyer for accused murderer George Zimmerman said today that a woman who claims he molested her for years as a child was Zimmerman's cousin and said his legal team would "vigorously defend" him against the allegations.
Lawyer Mark O'Mara also appeared to question why the prosecution released the woman's accusation. In a statement released today, O'Mara said that he had sought to block the release last month arguing, "The content of this statement is not relevant to the issues of this case, and it would not be admissible in the state's case in chief."
He also argued that the "irrelevant statement should be withheld from public dissemination" for fear that it would created "hostile publicity" that could "pose a serious threat to the administration of justice."
Judge Kenneth Lester had rejected O'Mara's motion, but the lawyer filed a new motion today to block release of the woman statement. The prosecution, however, released her claim, along with other evidence in the case which includes dozens of Zimmerman's jailhouse phone calls.
The woman is identified in court papers only a Witness 9.
"Now that this statement is part of the public record, the defense will vigorously defend Mr. Zimmerman against the allegations. In the next several weeks, there will be reciprocal discovery filed regarding Witness #9's statement," O'Mara said.
The prosecution contends that they were simply following an earlier ruling by the court that called for the release.
Zimmerman, charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, is not charged in connection to the molestation accusations. He is currently out of jail on a $1 millon bond.
"This is the first time in my life I'm not afraid of him," she told investigators when asked why she decided to come forward now. "I know he is not going to be out in public. I'm not afraid of him now."
The witness is heard weeping throughout parts of the interview as she recounted the allegations that she said began at age 6. Zimmerman, who was two years older, allegedly began touching and feeling her against her will. She told investigators the incidents often happened during family get-togethers.
"Every time that we would go up there, I would look at him and he would give me a certain look and I would know it would happen," she told investigators.
The woman had previously declined to speak to ABC News.
In the most disturbing charge, witness 9 recounted an alleged incident that occurred soon after Zimmerman moved to Florida where she claims that he forced himself on her.
"I wanted to believe that everyone was good and that people change. I wanted it to just stop. I didn't want to ever have to tell anyone. I didn't want to be sad and Georgie always made himself look so good. He always sucked up to my dad. He was charming…When I got there no one was there, but I was already scared. I wanted to run, but I didn't know what to do. He told me to lay on the bed but I did. I felt that he had an erection. I saw scared. I didn't know what was going to happen but I got up and ran," she told police.
She told investigators that in 2005 she told her family who confronted Zimmerman in a restaurant about the allegations, and that they were in shock.
"Instead of talking about it, he sat down at the end of the booth and said I'm sorry, and just got up and walked out," according to the report.
The witness said she and her family decided against pressing charges, but that Zimmerman has been estranged from them ever since.
In a separate recording, the same witness alleged that the Zimmerman family have made statements that they don't like black people.
"Growing up they've always made, him and his family have always made statements that they don't like black people if they don't act like white people. They like black people if they act white. Other than that, they talk a lot of bad things about black people," she claimed.
She later said that she had never seen Zimmerman or his family act on those feelings.