Raymond Grely Thornton raped a 15-year-old family member a second time a few months after the girl’s mother forced her to recant allegations that Thornton raped her, forcing the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office to close the first case, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Thornton, 59, a former forklift driver at a Waco industrial plant, is on trial in Waco’s 54th State District Court on two counts of sexual assault of a child.

In opening statements to the jury Tuesday morning, Gabrielle Massey said her office was forced to refuse a sexual assault of a child charge against Thornton in 2015 after the girl’s mother forced her to write a letter recanting the allegations against Thornton.

Despite medical evidence that the girl had been assaulted, the case could not be prosecuted without the girl’s testimony, Massey said.

“So after that, thinking he could do anything he wanted because he thought he had gotten away with it the first time, he raped her again,” Massey told jurors.

The girl’s relationship with her mother is strained now, and prosecutors filed a tampering with a witness charge against the mother, Massey said. That charge remains pending.

The girl, now a 17-year-old high school senior, is living with other family members. She is expected to testify when the trial resumes Wednesday morning.

Thornton’s attorneys, Alan Bennett and Jessi Freud, deferred opening statements Tuesday.

Two of the girl’s aunts testified Tuesday that they had been to the cemetery to place flowers on their parents’ graves in January 2016 when they returned home and found the girl there. She was upset and crying and told them Thornton had raped her for the second time. The women called police, who started an investigation, along with Child Protective Services investigators.

Waco police Detective Kim Clark said she interviewed Thornton after his first arrest on an assault charge in November 2015 and learned the girl’s mother was aware of the allegations a month before they were reported to police.

Clark said Thornton did not actually deny the allegations, but told her he was drunk and does not recall assaulting her. Clark said she was frustrated when she learned the girl recanted the allegations and the DA’s office was forced to drop the case.

After the second alleged assault, she talked to Thornton again. He told her he thought the matter was “all over and done with.” Clark said he denied the accusations, saying the girl made up the story because she was mad at him because he would not let her talk to boys on her iPad.

The charges against Thornton were enhanced because of a prior federal conviction for distribution of crack cocaine. He faces from five to 99 years and up to life in prison if convicted of sexual assault.

Staff writer at the Waco Tribune-Herald covering courts and criminal justice. Follow me on Twitter @TSpoonFeed.

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