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Ventura County

Husband Denies Attacks

Trial: Defense for the Simi Valley man's wife and stepdaughter, who are charged with attempted murder, alleges he was abusive.

July 26, 2002|TRACY WILSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Simi Valley father denied allegations raised by defense lawyers in court Thursday that he beat his wife and molested his teenage stepdaughter.

Larry Childs, 57, rejected accusations that he was an abusive father and husband who lied on the witness stand to shield himself from prosecution.

And he stood by his earlier testimony that his wife and stepdaughter attacked him with baseball bats on the morning of March 25 after his mattress caught fire.

Eileen Childs, 37, and her daughter, Jennifer Childs, 19, are each charged with attempted murder, arson and the use of deadly weapons.

Eileen Childs also faces child-endangerment charges because her sons, ages 9 and 11, were in the house at the time of the fire. And she is charged with felony grand theft for allegedly stealing $132,000 from her husband by forging his signature on an insurance check.

Prosecutors contend the mother-daughter duo conspired to kill Larry Childs to collect on $1.4 million in life insurance.

But defense attorneys argue the women acted in self-defense, saying Larry Childs grabbed both of them by the hair and dragged them across the room.

On Thursday, lawyers Jean Farley and Jenny Scovis tried to tarnish Larry Childs' credibility and portray him as the aggressor.

At one point Farley asked whether Childs attempted to have sexual relations with his stepdaughter five years ago while the two were on a trip to Washington, D.C.

"Did you ever try to kiss her breasts?" Farley asked during a string of detailed questions about his alleged sexual advances.

"No, ma'am," Childs responded flatly.

Later in the day, Scovis questioned whether Childs had demanded sex from his wife following her chemotherapy treatments for lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease. He denied it.

Childs also denied screaming at his wife over finances and beating his son with a belt. He rejected a suggestion his wife had put herself between him and the children to protect them from abuse.

"No, ma'am, that is not true," Childs responded, his voice raised after hours of similar questioning.

Childs acknowledged his wife had obtained a restraining order against him after the March 25 incident.

*

Times staff writer Jessica Blanchard contributed to this story.

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