Girl testifies in Hawkins' sexual assault trial

Abilene Reporter/October 25, 2008

Testimony from a 15-year-old girl revealed new details Friday about the allegations of sexual assault of a child by a House of Yahweh elder.

The girl, 11 at the time of the alleged assault, testified that her stepfather Yedidiyah Hawkins, 40, used a vaginal speculum -- a medical instrument used by gynecologists -- to perform an examination on her. Though the victim was identified in court proceedings, it is the policy of the Reporter-News not to name victims of sexual assault.

Prosecutor Shane Deel told the jury during opening statements that Hawkins purchased the speculum from a sex toy Web site that specializes in bondage items and that he had it mailed from Oregon to arrive by Jan. 31, 2005, when the assault is alleged to have occurred.

The girl, who had short hair and dark-painted fingernails, spoke quietly during her testimony, wringing her hands and glancing fleetingly at the jury of eight women and four men.

The alleged assault occurred in the home of Rachel Hawkins, who at the time was a member of the House of Yahweh. Rachel Hawkins had gone shopping in Dallas for the weekend, the girl said.

Deel said during his opening statement that Yedidiyah Hawkins knew that the home of Rachel Hawkins, who has since left the sect, would be empty for the weekend.

The girl told the jury that Hawkins said he wanted to check her for cervical cancer, but later witnesses testified that Hawkins has no medical training. Lisa Thornton, a former House of Yahweh member, testified that Hawkins was worried the girl was no longer a virgin. According to testimony, several people were told of the assault, including sect members who were described as judges. They did nothing to help, the girl said, and no law enforcement agency was contacted because that is against Yahweh rules.

"They told us law enforcement is bad, that they'll take you away," the girl testified.

The girl was placed in foster care last October.

Rachel Hawkins, who has three children with Yedidiyah Hawkins, testified that she found a set of homemade wooden stirrups, a condom and a bottle of lubricant under her bed when she returned home. After discussing her findings with other people, Rachel Hawkins said, she concocted a scheme to get Hawkins to admit to the assault by telling him she had video cameras in her home.

Yedidiyah believed her and repeatedly called her, telling her he would do anything to get the tapes back, Rachel Hawkins testified.

Rachel said that she recorded Yedidiyah admitting to the crime but that the recording was later erased by a House of Yahweh elder. She also alleged that Hawkins had used a speculum to examine her in December 2004 -- a month before the alleged incident with the girl. She said Yedidiyah Hawkins had stolen the speculum he used on her during a visit to the doctor's office.

"He asked if the speculum would hurt a virgin," she testified. "He was obsessed with wanting to know what a woman looked like."

Friday's testimony marked the end of a series of delays and postponements. Proceedings have been postponed four times for various reasons, including allowing time for DNA testing on Hawkins, his wife, a 2-year-old child and the girl. It was most recently delayed Monday for the observation of a holiday of the House of Yahweh, a religious sect with a number of members living in Callahan County.

Aggravated sexual assault of a child is a first-degree felony. If convicted, Hawkins faces up to life in prison.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.