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Judge weighs decision on man accused of molesting, videotaping stepdaughter

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A Manitoba judge is now deciding the fate of a man who claims he’s been wrongfully accused of sexually abusing and secretly videotaping his teenaged stepdaughter.

The 50-year-old — who can’t be named to protect the identity of the now 17-year-old girl — began his trial this week by pleading not guilty to several charges including sexual assault, voyeurism and making child pornography. He also took the witness stand, proclaiming his innocence and claiming the alleged victim was lying.

Queen’s Bench Justice Kenneth Hanssen heard a much different story from the teen, who claims she awoke to find the accused in her bedroom molesting her.

"He saw my reaction and said he was sorry," she testified.

Crown and defence lawyers made closing arguments Thursday. Hanssen has reserved his verdict until Dec, 19.

"The (girl’s) demeanour... is consistent with telling the truth," prosecutor Terry McComb told court.

Winnipeg police began investigating in early 2010 after the teen disclosed the incident to a teacher. She claims to have been afraid to tell anyone what happened, fearing she and her mother would be deported back to El Salvador where they had been sponsored by the accused following a 2005 marriage.

Police arrested the man and initially charged him with sexual assault and sexual interference. The investigation remained open and took another turn when police discovered a series of videotapes which contained topless images of the girl.

She apparently had no idea they had been taken on a webcam she claims had been hidden in her bedroom, allegedly by her stepfather. The man denies putting the camera there or taking the videos. Police say the recordings were made between September 2007 and December 2009, beginning when the girl was just 13. There are no allegations they had been sold or distributed.

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