Trial begins for Allegheny Township man charged with sexually assaulting 3 children, 3 adults

·2 min read

Sep. 21—An Allegheny Township man charged with the sexual assaults of three children and three adults over two decades showed no emotion Monday as the first of his accusers struggled to testify about the alleged abuses she claims she suffered in 2019.

The now 14-year-old girl from New Kensington, who prosecutors said was raped and molested at least three times, was at first unresponsive to questions. She answered sparingly as two different assistant district attorneys attempted to get her to disclose details of the allegations against Eric Alan Wright.

The 49-year-old is charged in six separate cases in which prosecutors contend he had sexual contact with three juveniles and sexually assaulted three adult women. In all, prosecutors filed more than 50 charges against Wright, who has denied any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors contend the 14-year-old girl was the first to come forward when she told police and a psychologist about the alleged interactions with Wright. In court Monday, the teen, after being prodded by prosecutors and urged by Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio to respond to questions from the lawyers, eventually gave short answers to confirm she had been improperly touched and raped by Wright.

She offered few details about the alleged rapes. In lieu of her testimony, prosecutors are expected to produce statements she initially gave to investigators and from her handwritten diary that were entered into evidence.

The teen was combative when questioned by defense attorney Bill Difenderfer.

"What reason would I have to lie about this?" the teen responded.

Assistant District Attorney Christina Gongaware, in her opening statement to the jury, called Wright a serial predator who took advantage of children and adults for his own sexual gratification until his first accuser came forward in October 2019.

"The defendant's reign of terror came to an end, and five more victims eventually came forward," Gongaware said.

Difenderfer told jurors prosecutors will be unable to corroborate any of the allegations brought by Wright's accusers.

"There are huge things that don't make sense. A lot of this matches something you'd see on the Jerry Springer show," Difenderfer said. "It is the defendant's position that none of this adds up and none of it makes sense."

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, or via Twitter .

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