Gasps After Broom Handle, Emotional Victim Video Shown at Regusters Trial

An evidence photograph causes a reaction in court.

Fred Harrison Christina Regusters Sketch
Dori Spector

WARNING: The details of this story are extremely graphic and disturbing

Gasps filled a Philadelphia courtroom in the trial against former day care worker Christina Regusters Tuesday afternoon. Police say she kidnapped and raped a kindergarten student that attended Heaven's Little Angels Day Care in West Philadelphia, the same day care where Regusters once worked.

From the witness stand, Philadelphia Police Officer William Trenwith reviewed the crime scene photos he took during his investigation of the child's abduction and rape last year.

There was one photograph that caused commotion. The courtroom reacted to a photograph of a broken blue broomstick handle underneath a bed in the rear bedroom at 6243 Walton Avenue. Police believe the victim was brutalized underneath that twin bed which donned a Tweety bird comforter in the photos.

The little girl was abducted from her kindergarten class at Bryant Elementary School immediately after she ate breakfast with her classmates on the morning of Jan. 14, 2013. The child was sexually assaulted, and held naked and blindfolded for 19 hours. 

A sharp object was used to rape the child. Dr. Cindy Christian of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia testified last week that the object could have been a broomstick.

Before Trenwith's testimony, forensics interviewer Jackie Block Goldstein of the Philadelphia Children's Alliance took the stand. She recounted the interview she conducted with the victim just hours after she was found partially naked crying for help under a swing set on an Upper Darby playground.

At the time of the forensics interview, neither Goldstein, the police, nor the child's family knew how serious the victim's injuries were. CHOP had released the victim that morning also not knowing the extent of the damage to her rectum, which required surgery and a temporary colostomy.

The despondent victim is seen on video visibly uncomfortable laying across two chairs as she partook in the hour long interview. Despite the pain she was in, she answered questions succinctly and consistently.

The child told Goldstein that she was poked with a toothpick in her private parts. The child said she believed the object was a toothpick because it felt sharp.

"You saw a child struggling against pain to cooperate and tell everything she knew. It was a moment when you couldn't help but be choked up," said Tom Kline, the victim's attorney in a civil case, who watched the video in horror.

During the course of the trial, photographs of the victim had been shown in court, but this was the first glimpse of the little girl on video after the crime was committed. The jury could see and hear how she was faring just hours after the assault.

"The victim not only survived the attack, she was instrumental in leading the investigators to solve the crime during these interviews," Kline said.

Prosecutors allege Regusters acted alone. Regusters maintains her innocence and is expected to take the stand in her own defense. Some of her relatives are expected to testify Wednesday for the prosecution.

Contact Sarah Glover at 610-668-5580, or follow @skyphoto on Twitter.

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