A Philadelphia woman has waited since she was 12 to face in court the man who she says repeatedly raped and assaulted her over the span of eight years.
That woman is now a 25-year-old city police officer, the same job Tyrone Wiggins - her alleged rapist - held during the years of his alleged crimes.
This morning, Wiggins, 51, is to stand trial in Common Pleas Court on charges of rape, corruption of a minor, aggravated indecent assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and related counts.
The woman who has accused him of soiling her youth is scheduled to take the witness stand today.
Wiggins, a former Marine and volunteer youth-karate instructor, retired from the police force Nov. 18, 2009, one day before he was arrested after a two-year investigation by the department's Internal Affairs Bureau.
The investigation was launched when the woman told authorities how Wiggins had befriended her family when she was 10 and she began taking karate lessons from him at the Olney Recreation Center.
She told of how - when she was 12 - Wiggins allegedly began raping her regularly at the recreation center, at her home, at his house on Chew Avenue near Front Street, in hotels and in his van in Fairmount Park.
She told of how - when she was 18 - he allegedly began to beat her, even causing an eye to swell shut.
Wiggins warned that if she told anyone, he would go to jail, but not before hurting her, the woman testified at Wiggins' preliminary hearing in January.
Defense attorney Scott Sigman said yesterday that Wiggins was innocent.
"My client maintains his innocence. He was a karate instructor. There's no doubt he had a close relationship with [his accuser], but he also had a close relationship with all of his students," Sigman said during a break in jury selection.
Wiggins, his wife and his two children stood nearby in the eighth-floor hallway of the Criminal Justice Center.
"I think it's a testament that his wife and children are here with him today," Sigman said.
Assistant District Attorney Mark Cipolletti said that Wiggins could face 25 to 50 years in prison if convicted of all charges.
Cipolletti said the evidence would show that Wiggins took the young woman "under his wing" when she was his 10-year-old karate student and that he "groomed her over a period of years until she was about 12, when he started to have sex with her."
Wiggins' alleged sexual involvement with the girl lasted through her teen years, and, as she became a young adult, he added physical violence to the relationship, Cipolletti said.
The beatings led the young woman to break off the relationship, get a protection-from-abuse order against Wiggins and start talking with police.
"She's a strong young woman," Cipolletti said.
"She's a police officer, and she's happy with her job. I think that she would probably like to put all of this behind her."