Testimony differs sharply as suspect in rape and teen accuser take stand

LISBON – Taking the stand in his own defense, Anthony Mehno claimed the teenage girl accusing him of rape made up the entire story in order to get attention.

Testifying in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Thursday afternoon, Mehno and his wife, Ashley Mehno, said the teen craved “negative attention.”

“It seems to me she was used to negative attention,” Ashley Mehno testified. “She would do things like skipping school or fighting for no reason.”

Ashley Mehno said she tried to be like a big sister to the teen, give her extra clothes and assist her in other ways to try to help her deal with low-income home life similar to what she dealt with as a teen.

“The girl’s been pregnant 17 times from what I’ve heard,” Anthony Mehno said. “She likes negative attention … attention that’s not good.”

When Assistant County Prosecutor Timothy McNicol challenged how Anthony Mehno learned this about the teenager who he claimed to barely know, Anthony Mehno continued “I’m sitting here for something I didn’t do.”

Both Ashley and Anthony Mehno testified about Anthony’s concerns about allowing the teenager to babysit the children any longer, claiming the girl was allowed to drink alcohol and use marijuana. Anthony Mehno said he did not care too much for her drinking or smoking.

McNicol questioned Mehno’s concerns, noting Anthony Mehno is the one with a felony drug conviction. At another point during testimony Anthony Mehno had said his driver’s license was suspended four years following a DUI and they have no car so he could not have driven the girl that night as she testified. Additionally, he admitted to attempting to smuggle marijuana into the jail with him, which caused him an additional charge.

He met Ashley Goudy, the teenager, her mother and their friend while doing community service at the Memorial Building in Salem as part of his sentence.

When asked how he felt when his then girlfriend Ashley Goudy told him about what the teen was accusing him of doing, Mehno said he was sick.

“Like I just dropped from a 100-foot roller-coaster,” Anthony Mehno said. “My stomach went up into my throat.”

During cross examination, McNicol questioned whether he felt that way because he then knew the teenager had told what happened and he might be caught.

“It made me sick someone would lie about something like this,” Mehno said.

However, he had no answers when McNicol asked him how his semen and sperm got into the underwear the teen was wearing or inside of her. He challenged Mehno whether he thought this was something a 15-year-old was able to accomplish in order to get attention.

Earlier in the day the teen testified the matching bra and underwear set were hers, something her grandfather had paid for when they were out shopping together for her birthday. Ashley Mehno testified the bra and underwear set were hers, given to her by her ex-boyfriend prior to her relationship with Anthony Mehno.

“She would have just helped herself to my clothes,” Ashley Mehno said about how the girl would have gotten them. “I usually didn’t question her about it.”

McNicol questioned both Ashley and Anthony Mehno about why forensic evidence showed only Anthony Mehno and the teen’s DNA in the underwear.

“Do you think (the teen) magically cleansed them of Ashley’s DNA, just to leave yours and hers?” McNicol questioned Anthony Mehno.

He also asked Ashley Mehno why her DNA would not have been in underwear she identified as her own.

“I don’t know, washing machine,” Ashley Mehno said. He continued by questioning would that have not washed away her husband’s DNA also. “I’m not a DNA analyst,” she replied.

She went on to claim it was “completely possible” the teen would have put on underwear with her husband’s semen on it and wore it, causing the sample to come back positive even on a swab taken during an internal exam.

“There are times she stayed with me and did not shower for weeks,” Ashley Mehno said.

McNicol also questioned testimony by both Anthony Mehno and his wife Ashley Mehno claiming although they were about to get married, Anthony Mehno did not have key to the apartment. Ashley Mehno said that because of his felony record, she was not allowed to have him live with her because the apartment was subsidized housing.

Anthony Mehno said he was never there when his girlfriend was not there and lived with his father and grandfather on Merle Road at that time. He said he was not there the night the alleged rape occurred. However, Ashley Mehno claimed the teen’s mother did have a key to her apartment and the girl could have been there anytime.

The couple testified Ashley Mehno had been in jail in the early morning hours of that Thursday at the time of the alleged rape because she had failed to appear three times on a theft-related charge. She turned herself in at Municipal Court on Tuesday morning and they kept her in jail until Thursday. Ashley Mehno claimed she had loaned her phone to the teenager on the previous Friday and someone drove her to get it from the teenager after she got out of jail the following Thursday afternoon, which is when she learned of the alleged assault.

McNicol also challenged that story, questioning why Ashley Mehno had told an investigator from the prosecutor’s office who was questioning her in preparation for the trial that she had given the girl the phone for the weekend. Ashley Mehno said she mixed up the dates, while McNicol offered her first story did not fit the time frame she needed to explain her phone being with the girl on Thursday.

At the end of the day and out of hearing of the jury, Lewis stated for the record he would like to object to the decision of Judge C. Ashley Pike not to allow testimony regarding an alibi for Anthony Mehno. Lewis said Mehno’s father would have testified Mehno was at his house the night of the alleged rape. McNicol added he would have presented rebuttal evidence to that alibi.

Pike had not allowed the alibi testimony after McNicol objected to it because no notice of alibi defense was filed before the trial.

Testimony differs sharply as suspect in rape and teen accuser take stand

LISBON – The teenager accusing Anthony Mehno of raping her in 2010 when she was 15 years old, opened testimony Thursday morning, the third day of the jury trial in the Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.

The girl said she babysat for Ashley Goudy’s children, a woman she met and became friends with through her own mother. The teen described the relationship she had with Goudy, who married Anthony Mehno less than a week after the alleged sexual assault, as more of a sisterly relationship.

The teen said she babysat the children for Goudy often “so she could go out and have a good time with her friends.” She would be paid $20, usually for watching the 2-year-old and an infant.

However, she testified Goudy was not home the night of April 29, 2010. Goudy, she would learn, was in jail and Goudy’s boyfriend, Mehno, had called her and asked her to come over to watch Goudy’s 2-year-old daughter so he could go out with friends.

The teen said her mother had allowed her to go provided Mehno was not going to be at home. She said she and her mother did not know him well. Believing he may not come home at all, the teen brought her pajamas in case she needed to spend the night, something she testified she had done before when Goudy asked her to babysit and stayed out very late.

The girl testified Mehno picked her up at her house with the 2-year-old in the car, drove them to Circle K to get some pop and dropped her and the child off at Goudy’s apartment with the keys. She said she went in, locked the door and watched children’s movies with the little girl throughout the evening. At some point, they became tired and went up to Goudy’s bed to continue watching the movies.

Testifying that she is a heavy sleeper, the teen claims she awoke between 2 and 3 a.m. to find her pajama bottoms and underwear off and Mehno on top of her having sex. She assured Assistant County Prosecutor Timothy McNicol that she clearly saw the face of Mehno.

“There’s no doubt,” she said. “I know it was him.”

During cross examination, defense attorney Kenneth Lewis asked her if she had ever told anyone else she had not been able to identify who it was or that several people had access to the apartment. The girl responded “no” to both questions.

The girl said she could smell alcohol on Mehno. When he realized she was awake, she said, he placed his hand over her mouth and said “shhhhh.” The teen said she reacted by biting his hand, punching him in the mouth and kneeing him in the testicles. She said she then grabbed her Thumper PJ bottoms, named for the Disney character printed on them, and her underwear, which were both laying beside the bed. She ran down the steps putting the clothes on, grabbed a phone belonging to Goudy from the counter and ran from the apartment without her shoes.

Lewis again challenged her story, asking whether Mehno screamed when she hit him or if the child she said was sleeping next to them woke up. He also asked why she did not provide all those details later to police or the doctor who examined her. He asked why she would leave the child behind with the man she claimed sexually assaulted her.

“I didn’t want to take her,” the girl responded. “I didn’t want to get in trouble for taking her.”

She testified she ran past about two apartment buildings to a garage area nearby and hid between it and a dumpster while she called her mother’s boyfriend for help. The teen said she did not believe her mother had any minutes on her phone, but the boyfriend was able to call the mother and get her to go pick up the teen. When she saw her mother pull up in her grandfather’s pickup, the girl said she ran toward her.

Again Lewis questioned the girl’s story, asking why she did not run to one of the other apartments and knock on the door for help or why she called her mom’s boyfriend instead of 911.

“I didn’t want to tell anybody,” she said.

Her mother took her home, but asked her to go to the hospital. She wanted to take a shower, but her mother did not want her to.

“I felt like it was my fault,” the girl said. “(I felt) very filthy.”

She claimed she had pain in her private area which felt “like a million knives stabbing you.” She also described a burning sensation and pain when she went to the bathroom. She took ibuprophin. Eventually she went to Salem Community Hospital but learned they do not do sexual assault-related exams on minors. Salem police made arrangements for her to be taken to Akron Children’s Hospital.

The doctor who examined her there also testified Thursday. Dr. Paul McPherson, an expert in child abuse, said he was nearing the end of his shift when he learned a 15-year-old girl was on the way complaining of a sexual assault. He stayed because it was his area of expertise, handled the exam, asked her about what had happened and provided her with medications to protect her against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

He testified the injury on her hand was consistent with someone who had been in a fight. Additionally, he said the girl had two tears, one of which healed when he rechecked her three weeks later and one which did not. McPherson attributed that to the girl telling him she had had consensual sex the December before. He believed the one which did not heal may have been old, but the other which healed was consistent with the alleged recent sexual encounter.

McPherson said the girl’s mother also told him at an exam three weeks later she was showing issues with anger and sadness, which he said are not unusual behaviors for a teen recently raped. He said he has dealt with about 1,500 sexual abuses through the years, including others where the child was awakened during the assault. He also said it is not unusual for a teen not to want to tell authorities or disclose what happened to anyone.

When questioned by Lewis, McPherson also admitted there have been cases where teens make things up.

“It’s uncommon, but on rare occasions it did happen,” he said.

McPherson said he did recommend counseling for the teen and noted his records showed she had had some experience with a counselor somewhere in her past.