GASTON COUNTY, N.C. —
An 11-year-old boy said his foster father sexually assaulted him multiple times a week when he was 6- and 7-years-old.
The child testified Tuesday morning that George Steen would molest him while the two showered together. His foster mother was sometimes in the Lincolnton home at the time but unaware of the molestation, the child said.
“I tried to scream the first day and the second day but he covered my mouth,” the boy said from the witness stand. “He was doing wrong things to me.”
Allegations of abuse
The child was taken from his mother and put into foster care in 2005, at the age of 4. He lived with the Steens on and off until he turned 8.
The boy said that Steen threatened to punish him if he told anyone what they did in the shower. Steen also told the child that no one believes a kid anyway.
The Steens were certified foster parents. According to the child’s testimony, he struggled to tell the truth in the past. If he told a lie, the boy would be made to eat soap when living with the Steens, the child testified.
The boy didn’t speak of the alleged abuse until he was placed in another foster home. One day while watching TV with his new foster mother the boy spoke of his relationship with Steen.
Lincoln County Department of Social Services was called, and Steen was charged with three counts of child sex assault.
Steen’s attorney, T.J. Wilson, said during opening statements Monday that the boy has a history of lying.
The defense has not yet had its chance to present evidence or witnesses.
Mental and emotional issues
Several psychologists and social workers testified in Steen’s trial Tuesday.
One psychologist talked of the child’s current mental state. He functions at a second-grade level and has sexual behavior issues. The boy suffers from depression, ADHD, expressive language disorder and reactive attachment disorder, according to specialists.
Like many children who have suffered sex abuse, the boy now expresses sexual predatory behavior. He now lives in a facility for children who display such behaviors.
Seven years in foster care
TheLincolnCountychild moved in with the Steens at age 4. It was his first foster home. His stay was short – just 21 days.
Social Services moved the boy to another family where his two sisters had gone. But taking on three children proved too much for those foster parents so the boy was removed from the home and returned to the Steens.
The child spent the next two-and-a-half years in the Steens’ home.
DSS attempted again to reunite the boy with family, returning him to his mother. But that attempt was short-lived. A month later he went into a group home. He spent six days there before being placed with another family.
The boy began acting out, according to social workers, and he was taken to a hospital for 10 days where his medications were leveled out.
He was returned to the Steens’ home in December 2007 where he stayed until February 2009.
At age 8 the child was transferred to another family for four days followed by a group home for nine days.
His next family kept him for three months before he was sent again to a group home.
In 2009, the child was placed with a family for nine months. That’s where he reported the alleged abuse.
The child now lives in a psychiatric residential treatment facility where his sexual and behavioral issues can be addressed.
On the stand
The boy was visibly uncomfortable when talking about sex in front of a room full of people. He told Lincoln County Assistant District Attorney Beth Lari that he was nervous and just wanted to finish his testimony.
He gripped a small stuffed animal. He said the toy was a way to calm his nerves.
The boy said he didn’t want to talk about it, but he wanted to make sure Steen didn’t victimize anyone else.
“That’s why I told,” he said. “I didn’t want no one else to be involved with this.”
The child left the courtroom Tuesday morning once he finished his testimony.