Thursday, December 12, 2013
The Associated Press
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A relative of George Zimmerman claims she was molested by him when they were both children, the latest allegation in the case against the former neighborhood watch volunteer charged in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.
George Zimmerman enters court in Sanford, Fla., on June 29 for a bond hearing in connection with the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. He has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense.
2012 File Photo/The Associated Press
The interview with police, done nearly a month after the February shooting, was made public Monday after local media fought to have it released, over objections from prosecutors and the defense.
The woman, identified as witness No. 9 in court documents, called investigators shortly after Zimmerman was arrested to say that Zimmerman and his family were racists. The evidence released Monday shows she also called a state attorney about three weeks later with more serious allegations.
She described Zimmerman as a charmer who made everyone laugh. He was different, she said, when alone with her behind closed doors.
The woman said she was fondled, groped and kissed by Zimmerman beginning when she was 6 and he was about 8, when they'd see each other at family gatherings. She said it continued until she was about 16.
"He would reach under the blankets," she said. "I would try to push him off, but he was bigger and stronger and older. I was a kid. I didn't know any better.".
Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 death of the 17-year-old Martin, who was unarmed when he was killed in Sanford. Zimmerman claims Martin attacked him. He has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense.
The interview was done March 20 as Martin's supporters began saying the teenager was racially profiled because he was black. Zimmerman's father is white and his mother is Peruvian.
The woman recalled watching movies at Zimmerman's house when he first reached inside her underwear. She said she went to sleep crying.
She said she was not raped, but the abuse happened over the next 10 years. Around 2005, the woman's parents arranged to confront Zimmerman at a restaurant, after learning from her sister what happened. He showed up, said "I'm sorry," and left, the woman said.
In a separate interview, the woman accused Zimmerman of being a racist.
"I was afraid that he may have done something because the kid was black, because growing up they 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," the woman said. She couldn't recall any specific comments he had made.
The Orlando Sentinel, the Sun Sentinel and WFTV fought for the release of the interview, and the judge agreed.
"Adding this statement to the discourse will simply be another piece of the puzzle to be relied upon by those who want to believe there was a racial motive to the shooting, and will be dismissed by those who claim that there was no such motive," Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester wrote.
-- The Miami Herald contributed to this report.