*George Zimmerman’s defense team has responded to the allegations of a family friend who told investigators he sexually molested her off and on for nearly a decade.
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The allegations were made public Monday via newly released audio tapes in the Trayvon Martin shooting case. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in Martin’s death.
“He would reach under the blankets and try to do things,” the woman—identified as Witness #9—told investigators.
Zimmerman’s defense team later identified the unnamed woman as his cousin and said they plan to file “reciprocal discovery” in the coming weeks.
“Now that this statement is part of the public record, the defense will vigorously defend Mr. Zimmerman against the allegations,” they said on a website dedicated to Zimmerman’s defense.
The accuser said the molestation occurred at Zimmerman’s parents’ house when they were growing up.
“I would try to push him off, but he was bigger, stronger and older,” she said during the interview conducted on March 20, less than a month after the Feb. 26 shooting. The woman, who contacted prosecutors after Martin’s killing, said she was 6 and Zimmerman was 8 when the alleged molestation began. It continued until she was 16, she said.
Investigators asked the woman why she was coming forward now. “This is the first time in my life that I’m not afraid of him,” she replied.
The woman also told state investigators that she anonymously called Sanford police after Martin’s death.
“I was afraid that he may have done something because the kid was black,” the woman says on the recordings. She said she had no direct knowledge of the shooting death, but wanted police to know Zimmerman had made negative comments about blacks when they were growing up.
The audio was released on Monday along with dozens of recordings from phone calls Zimmerman made while behind bars in April. Defense attorney Mark O’Mara fought until the last minute to keep the recordings from Witness 9 a secret, but Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. ruled the evidence is public information and ordered them to be made available.
“This irrelevant statement should be withheld from public dissemination because of the substantial risk that public disclosure will lead to widespread hostile publicity which would substantially impair the Defendant’s fair trial rights, and would pose a serious threat to the administration of justice,” the defense said on its website.