Parents testify at harness driver's abuse trial
BALLSTON SPA Hearing the story her daughter told about the night she spent at Brian Allen’s home in Greenfield sent the mother reeling, she recalled in Saratoga County Court Monday.
The 14-year-old girl, whose name is being withheld by The Gazette, was baby sitting for the successful harness racing trainer and driver on Feb. 24, 2012, when she decided to stay overnight at his Hemlock Drive residence because of inclement weather. When she returned to her home in Ballston Spa the next day, the girl told her mother that Allen had oral sex with her.
The mother was shocked, but also concerned. She feared her husband learning of Allen’s contact with their daughter could prompt him to do something bad.
“It was overwhelming,” she said of why she didn’t tell her husband the full account of what allegedly happened at the Allen residence. “And I didn’t want him to do anything rash at the time.”
The father also took the stand Monday and recalled how his wife looked “visibly upset” after their daughter told her about the sexual contact. He told of how he went to the Allen’s residence to confront the man he knew as an acquaintance through the harness racing industry; how Allen didn’t come to the door even though his black truck was in the driveway; how he contacted investigators with the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office; and how the angst he was feeling that day made it seem like the authorities took forever to respond to his call. “At the time, it felt like an eternity,” he said.
Allen, 48, stands accused of one felony count of second-degree criminal sexual act and one misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child. The charges are the first two of a 48-count indictment stemming from his alleged contact with the 14-year-old girl in February 2012 and a 15-year-old girl starting in October 2011.
Allen also faces charges of second-degree rape, third-degree criminal sex act and third-degree rape — all felonies — in connection with the 15-year-old girl. He is awaiting trial on those charges at a later date.
Mark Wolber, Allen’s defense attorney, said the girl in the case currently being tried simply concocted a story about his client. He said the only witnesses in the case are the accuser and Allen, who intends to take the stand in his own defense.
“There are no eye-witnesses to the incident,” he said during break in the trial. “It didn’t happen.”
Wolber also intends to call a DNA expert to rebut some of the evidence introduced by the prosecution. The expert, who is flying in from Chicago, is slated to testify Thursday.
Prosecutors intend to call about a dozen witnesses. They called the first eight Monday and also introduced several items of evidence, including the clothes the girl was wearing during the alleged encounter with Allen.
Allen had a very respectable harness racing career at the Saratoga Casino and Raceway. But three months after his arrest in March 2012, the state Racing and Wagering Board suspended his license, citing that he lacked “the general character and fitness for continued participation in pari-mutuel racing.”
Allen’s bench trial is before Judge Jerry Scarano. Wolber said the decision to forgo a jury trial was made to avoid some of the subjectivity that tends to impact jurors in sexual abuse cases.
“Jurors may not be as objective as a judge,” he said during break in the trial. “These types of cases generate a certain amount of sympathy for people.”