Skeletons in the closet
By Rick Anderson
Catholics aren't the only ones with something to hide.
The state Supreme Court on Monday refused to throw out a Hollis man's conviction on child molestation charges.
Gregory Blackstock was convicted early last year of sexually assaulting a young girl in 1999, while working as a handy man for the girl's uncle and living with her aunt and uncle in East Kingston during the week.
He also was convicted in a separate case of molesting the girl's twin cousins. He had befriended the family while attending a Jehovah's Witness church in East Kingston.
Blackstock appealed the first conviction, arguing that prosecutors did not prove he had touched the 9-year-old girl's genitals. She testified he put his hand inside her pants and touched her between her legs, in an area prosecutors called her "private parts."
He also said the trial judge ruled incorrectly that if he was allowed to ask the girl's aunt whether she was upset with him, the aunt could say why she was upset: Because he had confessed to church elders that he also molested her daughters.
Blackstone wanted the aunt's testimony limited to saying that she was upset with him in a matter involving her family, so the jury would not know he was accused of molesting other young girls.
The aunt was a key witness in the first trial because Blackstock told her he had touched her niece, although he claimed it was accidental.
The court ruled Monday the jury could reasonably conclude that when the girl testified he touched her private parts between her legs, he touched her genitals.
Associate Justice James Duggan also said the trial judge's decision regarding the aunt's testimony was fair.
"To permit the defendant to elicit the fact that the aunt was biased against the defendant based on undefined 'bad feelings' could create a false or misleading impression concerning the reasons for the aunt's bias," Duggan wrote in the 4-0 decision.
Blackstock is serving five to 10 years in prison in that case, and an additional 10 to 20 years on three counts of sexually assaulting the twin girls. He was convicted of molesting the twins even though a judge ruled his conversations with church elders were confidential and the elders could not be compelled to testify.
In an unrelated case, he is accused of sexually assaulting a Hollis girl between 1989 and 1996.