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Nanny in TV reporter Charles Leaf child sex assault trial begins testimony

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

EXCLUSIVE: The nanny in the child sex assault trial of former FOX TV reporter Charles Leaf testified today that the alleged victim told her that he touched her “there” — after previously insisting two or three times that he didn’t.

The two had just used the bathroom in October 2010, Weronika Karwowska told jurors, when she privately questioned the youngster — then 4 years old — “if anyone ever touched her there.”

“Yes. [Leaf] did,” Karwowska said the girl told her.

Asked what the child was doing as she spoke, Karwowska told Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Kenneth Ralph: “She was looking at her feet.”

The reason for the question, she said, was because the girl frequently complained of very sensitive genitals and was uncomfortable when they were cleaned. She’d also had problems with bowel movements, the nanny said.

Charles Leaf watches today as Weronika Karwowska testifies in Hackensack
(STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

The conversation came up after the girl had an accident and had to be taken to the bathroom to be cleaned up during a play date at Leaf’s Wyckoff home, Karwowska testified. She said she later told another parent, who reported it to police.

Superior Court Judge James J. Guida instructed jurors that Karwowska’s contention of what the girl said “isn’t evidence that the offense actually occurred or that it did not” — but must be weighed for credibility in the context of all other evidence.

The girl, who turned 8 in December, testified nearly three weeks ago that Leaf never touched her and that the molestation allegations she made to a therapist years ago were fed to her by Karwowska, 27.

The nanny, who was born in Poland and came to the U.S. more than 20 years ago, was implacable during nearly three hours on the stand, most of it without jurors present.

Much of the time centered on photos and text messages that Karwowska exchanged with her boyfriend at the time — which defense attorney Brian Neary sought to have included in his presentation.

Questioned by Neary, Karwowska said that she frequently engaged in the text-play with her boyfriend, sometimes while working but without children around, and more for “entertainment” than romance.

Neary suggested that the photos could be the source of the little girl’s description of ejaculation.

Karwowska countered that she never allowed the girl to see what was on her phone — although she admitted leaving her alone in a car one day with the Blackberry while she visited an insurance office.

“The phone has a factory default setting,” she said, adding that “you have to put in an interlock code to open it,” although the phone could still be answered.

Guida ruled the phone evidence shouldn’t be given to jurors. But he also said Neary’s legal team can seek another ruling if it can demonstrate direct relevance.

The judge emphasized that he wouldn’t allow it to be used as a means of discrediting Karwowska’s testimony — and also barred Neary from raising the subject of tangles she’s had with police, including one that led to her arrest at Westchester County Airport.

Once the questions of evidence were ruled on by Guida, jurors returned around 3:30. Court recessed roughly an hour later.

Neary was to resume his cross-examination of Karwowska tomorrow morning.


Weronika Karwowska questioned by defense attorney Brian Neary
(STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

PREVIOUS:

EXCLUSIVE: Two full days of scrupulous questioning in the child sex assault trial of former Fox 5 TV reporter Charles Leaf ended yesterday in Hackensack with a defense attorney and chief investigator from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office continuing to butt heads. READ MORE ….

* * * * * *

EXCLUSIVE: A retired investigator testified today that Bergen County detectives searched for child pornography on the work computer of former Fox 5 reporter Charles Leaf — a fact apparently not told to defense lawyers or prosecutors before his child sex abuse trial began this week. READ MORE ….

* * * * * *

EXCLUSIVE: The second day in the child sex-abuse trial of former Fox 5 reporter Charles Leaf in Hackensack today featured a former investigator testifying about an interview she observed with the then-4-year-old girl who prosecutors say was the victim. READ MORE ….

* * * * * *

UPDATE: Showing considerable composure, an 8-year-old girl testified in Hackensack today that former FOX 5 reporter Charles Leaf never touched her and that molestation allegations she made to a therapist years ago were fed to her by her nanny, whom she called “Weronika.” READ MORE ….

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