Testimony in the jury trial of Wendell Anthony Greene, a 37-year-old former Duluth youth basketball coach accused of having sexual contact with two pre-teen girls, began Thursday.
Greene of Duluth is charged with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, including penetration, and three counts of second-degree sexual conduct. If convicted, sentencing guidelines would call for Greene to receive a 12-year prison sentence.
On Thursday, two of Greene’s alleged victims, who were sisters ages 10 and 8 at the time, took the stand to give emotional testimony of their alleged sexual abuse while in Greene’s care.
The mother of the girls also testified, describing the close relationship Greene had forged with her children, both as a coach at the Duluth Salvation Army and later as a personal care assistant helping out in her home. The mother said she had viewed Greene as “a good role model” for her children until the allegations of sexual conduct came to light.
“They just loved him,” she said. “The kids all jumped on him. They kind of adopted him like an uncle. You could tell they really cared about him.”
The older of the two sisters to come forward said she told her mother of Greene’s advances after an incident last June in which he reportedly took her to his residence, asked her to remove her clothing and lie down on his bed so he could examine some red spots on her skin. She said he then proceeded to fondle her.
“I snatched up my clothes and put them on,” she testified. “I told him you don’t do that to kids.”
The girl also told of another time that Greene allegedly encouraged her to strip to her underwear and nap on a futon in his apartment. She said Greene then lied down next to her and kissed her on her underpants.
Her younger sister testified that Greene had encouraged her to take a bath while staying overnight at his apartment last year and helped wash her back. She said Greene then took a bath himself and asked her to fetch him a bath towel. When she entered the bathroom, the 8-year-old girl allegedly found him naked in the tub.
Prosecutor Rebecca Stumme asked how the experience made her feel.
“Disgusted,” the girl said.
“Why?” Stumme asked.
“Because it’s nasty,” the girl replied.
The younger sister also alleged that Greene had placed his hand on her crotch while giving her a ride in his Jeep.
Page 2 of 2 - Greene’s defense attorney, Thomas Skare, has not yet had an opportunity to call any witnesses and declined to publicly discuss his legal strategy when asked about the case Thursday.
“Mr. Greene has pleaded not guilty, and it’s my policy not to talk about an active case,” he said.
But in previous interviews, he voiced concerns that the alleged victims’ testimonies may have been tainted or distorted during repeated interviews, counseling and therapy.
In addition to the charges Greene is now facing on trial, he also awaits a second trial on separate charges of first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a 14-year-old girl. That case will focus on Greene’s relationship with another girl he formerly coached and events that allegedly occurred in the spring of 2010.