Rape trial begins

Published 10:18 am Wednesday, March 14, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell – news writer
A former Escambia County teacher is facing up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted of second-degree rape.
Victor Labarron Payne, a former physical education and science instructor at Escambia County Middle School in Atmore, is on trial this week in connection with allegations by a then-seventh-grade student at the school.
The alleged incident took place in December 2002 or January 2003 on the campus of the school.
In opening arguments Tuesday at the Escambia County Courthouse in Brewton, prosecuting attorney Reo Kirkland Jr. told a jury Payne admitted having sex with the girl at the school's concession area.
Defense attorney Armardo Pitters said his client would take the stand during the trial and speak for himself in regard to the charges against him.
Pitters said the school found nothing that would cause Payne not to be employed as a teacher at the school.
Escambia County High School Principal Kyle Ferguson testified Tuesday that the victim related a story of sexual contact with a teacher at Escambia County Middle School to ROTC instructor Danny Smart. Smart reported the information to Ferguson, who then interviewed the victim.
Ferguson said it was his duty to report the allegations to the Department of Human Resources who in turn informed the Escambia County Sheriff's Department.
Chuck McMullen, who was a captain with the Escambia County Sheriff's Department at the time of the arrest, said he acted on a call from DHR.
The case is expected to continue today as more witnesses for the prosecution are called. The defense will be calling witnesses during the trial today as well.
If convicted on the charge of rape second degree, which is a Class B felony, Payne would face not more than 20 years or less than 2 years in prison.

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