Opening statements and testimony begin in trial of Franklin Dale Church

Franklin Dale Church (Source: Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office)
Franklin Dale Church (Source: Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office)

LIVINGSTON, LA (WAFB) - Opening statements and testimony got underway Wednesday morning in the trial of a former fire chief facing multiple sex charges.

Franklin Dale Church of Holden is charged with nine counts of indecent behavior with juveniles. He is the former fire chief of Holden.

Eleven people testified Wednesday, several are relatives of Church who claim he molested them when he was about 17.  Family members say they can remember inappropriate things happening when they were as young as five.

One family member testified Church would peek through a window to watch her take a bath or try and convince her to get naked with him.  She says he would tell her, "don't worry we're just playing a game."

Another relative testified Church would corner her and shove her against the wall and touch her.

"He told me I was his girlfriend and I should like it," she testified.

The father of some family members testified he threatened Church with castration.

Another witness said when Church's mother caught him fondling one of the girls, Church's mother told the girl, "Boys will do what you let them and you know boys will be boys."

The mother of a 13-year-old victim testified her daughter received messages on Facebook and text messages from Church.  She says the texts said things like: Does your mother know who you are texting?  Are you deleting these messages?  Did you know you're hot?  Can you meet me in 20 minutes?   She also testified that last year, her daughter told her Church put a dog collar on her, covered her with a sheet and whipped her.

The trial is taking place at the Livingston Parish Courthouse. A jury made up of seven people, four women and three men, will decide Church's fate.

According to the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office, the charges stem from acts that happened between March 2012 and June 2012 with a 14-year-old female and an incident with a 13-year-old girl in December 2009.

Church was released from jail in January 2012 stemming from a November 2010 arrest where he was charged with 101 counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and one count of pornography involving a juvenile. The charges were dismissed because of the statute of limitations.

However, prosecutors will be allowed to bring up those past charges.

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