Inquirer staff writer Larry King reports:
Jury deliberations began shortly after noon today in the Bucks County trial of Angela Honeycutt, a single mother of two charged with sexually assaulting two teenage boys during a sleepover she was supposed to be chaperoning.
The 39-year-old Lower Makefield woman is accused of having sex with a 15-year-old boy in the shower of a friend's home, and then molesting a second boy, 14, who also had joined her in the shower.
Honeycutt, whose lawyer called no defense witnesses, denies the charges. She has acknowledged acting provocatively and kissing some of the boys, but has said she touched none of them sexually in the shower.
The allegations stem from a teen party held April 11-12 at the home of Honeycutt's friend and neighbor, Lynne Long-Higham. It began as a party for about 20 male and female high school freshmen who were friends of Long-Higham's teenage son.
After all but six boys went home, prosecutors say, Honeycutt danced suggestively, discussed sex with the boys, kissed three of them, and then stripped and invited them to shower with her. Two accepted; one after the other.
In closing arguments this morning, defense attorney Niels Eriksen said the charges are groundless. He pointed to a tape made from a phone call secretly recorded by police a few days after the party. In it, Honeycutt is confronted by the boy who allegedly had intercourse with her, and the boy's mother.
The tape shows that Honeycutt denied 22 times that she had sex with the boy, Eriksen said, adding that she did nothing more than kiss and shower naked with him. "That's the most credible piece of evidence in this case," he argued.
Eriksen said the 15-year-old embellished his story by saying he had sex with Honeycutt, and said that there were too many inconsistencies among witnesses at the party for them to be believed. "I don't trust the evidence in this case," Eriksen told the six-man, six-woman jury. "You can't convict her because she did something inappropriate. You have to convict her because she did something criminal."
Deputy District Attorney Mark Walz said it made no sense that the boys would lie about what happened. The 15-year-old was mortified that girls were teasing him in school about rumors that he had kissed Honeycutt, Walz said, so it made no sense that he would then embellish the rumors by claiming to have had sex.
Honeycutt's statements made even less sense, the prosecutor said.
Honeycutt acknowledged on the wiretap that she had exposed herself to the boys, kissed them and had been naked in the shower with two of them.
"Are we supposed to believe that she stopped it right there? That's what is incredible," Walz told the jury. "That's what does not make sense."
Although the boys were willing participants, consent is not a defense, Walz said. It is illegal for anyone who is at least four years older to have sex with a child under 16.
Walz also urged the jurors not to use a double-standard because Honeycutt is female.
He asked them to imagine a scenario in which a single father hosted a sleepover for 14-and 15-year-old girls, and asked a male friend to help chaperone. The male friend gets drunk, kisses three of the girls, exposes himself to them and has sexual activity with two of them in a shower.
"The law is the same," Walz reminded the jurors. "It is illegal to have sex with children."
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