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Blinded, Mute, 'Girl X' Testifies in '97 Rape Case

March 24, 2001|From Associated Press

CHICAGO — Raising her head and making eye movements to communicate, the 13-year-old known as Girl X testified Friday about the attack in 1997 that left her blind, crippled and mute.

She was the third witness called in the trial of Patrick Sykes, 29, who is accused of raping, beating and pouring roach killer down her throat in the attack at the crime-ridden Cabrini-Green housing project. Her identity guarded, she has been called Girl X in the media.

She arrived in the courtroom in a wheelchair, her arms lying useless in front of her. At times, she seemed almost about to doze off, but her answers to questions from prosecutor Anita Alvarez showed that she was alert.

As speech therapist Barbara Robinson called out the teen's yes or no responses, Girl X--who was 9 at the time of the attack--told how she had gone up a stairwell in the housing project and met a man on the fifth floor who lured her into an apartment by offering her a banana.

"What did he do when he was . . . in front of you?" Alvarez asked.

The words were spelled slowly: "Pull out k-n . . ."

"Did he pull out a knife?" Alvarez asked.

The girl looked upward to indicate yes.

As the slow process continued, Girl X told how her assailant forced her into a bedroom and told her to get on the bed. After an hour of testimony, she asked for a break.

Sykes is charged with predatory criminal sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping and attempted murder in the Jan. 9, 1997, attack.

Prosecutor William O'Brien acknowledged that police, who arrested Sykes nearly three months after the attack after 2 1/2 days of interrogation, made "missteps" and that no physical evidence links Sykes to the girl.

O'Brien said Sykes confessed to detectives during the questioning.

But defense attorney Robert Byman told jurors his client suffered an epileptic seizure under interrogation and could remember nothing of any confession.

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