In a trial where both sides agreed there would be no physical evidence, lawyers told jurors that the outcome would rest on the testimony of two people: a 54-year-old barber and the 14-year-old Ellicott City boy he is accused of sexually assaulting.
in November and charged with one count of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of third-degree sexual assault.
Kim is the owner and only employee of Scissors Sound Hair Salon at 3419 Plum Tree Dr. The state's prosecutor contended that in mid-October 2011 the , then 13, in a storage room in the salon.
During opening arguments Monday in Howard County Circuit Court, the prosecution presented a lack of evidence as a cue for jurors to trust their instincts while the defense said it was one of the reasons to find their client innocent.
“Your instincts are going to be very important in this case,” prosecutor Jennifer Ritter said during opening arguments on behalf of the state.
At the end of the trial, she told jurors, they would have to ask themselves: “Do you believe this 14-year-old boy came to court and put himself through all of this if it wasn’t true?”
Samuel Delgado opened for the defense, telling jurors that the boy would indeed say that Kim did all of the things that he is charged with. Rather than using instincts, however, Delgado told jurors not to let emotions dictate their decision. This case, he said, was “like the boy who cried wolf. But there was no wolf.”
Delgado said that the boy—who, at the time of the alleged assault was 13 years old and “raging with hormones”—was being beaten by his father. After accusing Kim of rape, Delgado said, “Everything shifted at once. Now [the boy is] a victim.”
During his opening statement, Delgado also said that the allegations had ruined his client’s life.
“Welcome to the nightmare of Jung Gon Kim,” he said.
Throughout most of the proceedings, Kim sat still, at times pressing on an earbud in which translators repeated testimony in Korean. But at that point, he began to rub his face vigorously. When Delgado showed the jury a photograph of Kim with his wife and two children, Kim began to cry.
In his testimony, the 14-year-old boy recounted the events leading up to the alleged assault and noted, at the prosecutor’s request, the importance of his hair.
“I like to get creative with it,” he said on the stand. “I like to express my feelings with fashion.”
The boy said that he initially would see Kim once a month, but began going more frequently.
“My hair started getting messy,” he testified.
The boy, like Kim, is a recent immigrant to the United States from Korea. He said that Kim would act unusually friendly, as if he was a family member. “He would hug me after a hair cut,” the boy testified. “Instead of a two-second hug, he would hold on for 20 seconds until I said to let go.”
He testified that he thought maybe Kim was a friend of his father’s or a cousin. But Kim’s advances, he said, made him increasingly uncomfortable.
“He asked me about puberty a lot,” the boy said. “Asked about masturbation … asked me if I had masturbated before.” The boy said that he would make excuses to leave early, spraying his shirt down with water to make it appear he had just come from football practice, or wearing a football uniform to the salon and telling Kim he had to leave right away for practice.
After the alleged sexual assault, the boy said he went home and “took a really long shower just to forget about everything.” He did not tell his parents because he was too shy and afraid, he said.
The boy went back to see Kim a few days later because, he testified, he thought Kim had messed up his last haircut on purpose. The boy testified that he brought a friend with him for safety.
When Ritter asked why he returned to Kim after the alleged assault, the boy said: “He would give me free hair cuts.”
Defense attorneys are scheduled to question the boy in court on Tuesday.