Trial underway for Former CHP lieutenant accused of child molest

Crime

Trial underway for Former CHP lieutenant accused of child molestation

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EL CENTRO, CA - The molestation trial for former California Highway Patrol Lieutenant Johnnie Swaim began this morning. Swain is accused of molesting two young girls.

Swaim's defense attorney, Robert Espinoza and Imperial County District Attorney Heather Trapnell gave opening arguments. Judge Christopher Plourd did not allow cameras inside the courtroom.

One of the two victims who accused Swaim of molesting her is still a minor. KSWT News 13 will not release their names.

A stone-faced Swaim entered the courtroom and hardly showed any expression as he sat next to his defense attorney. He looked down and stared at his hands folded in front of him.

During opening statements Imperial County District Attorney Heather Trapnell provided graphic details, telling jurors Swaim forced his daughters who were little girls at the time to perform oral sex on him.

Trapnell also told jurors Swaim molested two other relatives. Both are also expected to testify against him in this trial.

Swaim's defense attorney, Robert Espinoza argued that Swaim's daughters are lying about being molested by Swaim. Espinoza said that these molestation claims were simply made as a way to get back at Swaim who caught the older daughter making out with her boyfriend.

Espinoza then told the jury the older daughter manipulated her little sister to go along with her story claiming their father molested them. 

Johnnie Swaim's oldest daughter was the first witness called to the stand. During her testimony she appeared soft spoken, nervous, her voice broke up several times. She never made eye contact with her accused father as she described details. 

The trial is expected to last at least 6 weeks. The prosecution is expected to call 29 more witnesses to the stand. Swaim faces four counts for molesting four kids more than ten years ago.

If convicted he faces up to 24 years in prison. In 1997, a jury acquitted Johnnie Swaim of similar charges.

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