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Mothers in former OU professor's trial prove difficult as witnesses

Two women who testified Thursday proved difficult for prosecutors in the child sex abuse trial of former University of Oklahoma professor Dwain Pellebon.
by Andrew Knittle Modified: October 24, 2013 at 9:52 pm •  Published: October 25, 2013
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Two women who testified Thursday proved to be difficult witnesses for prosecutors in the child sex abuse trial of former University of Oklahoma professor Dwain Pellebon.

The two women, who at times appeared hostile toward prosecutors during questioning, are the mothers of two of Pellebon's alleged victims.

The women are Filipino and are friends and associates of the defendant's wife, who also is from the Philippines.

During testimony Thursday, jurors glimpsed the complex social circle of the Filipino women who live in the Norman area.

Pellebon is accused of multiple sex crimes against children, including one girl who is apparently mentally disabled. He was arrested in December 2011 by Norman police and resigned his position as a social work professor soon thereafter.

Prosecutors have painted Pellebon as a predator who groomed multiple children in his social network, often taking them to the movies or paying them to do chores to gain their favor.

Alleged victims and their parents will not be named by The Oklahoman to protect their identities.

Hostile witnesses

Multiple young girls have said the former professor made them feel uncomfortable by unwanted touching, but none reported being touched in a sexual manner by Pellebon.

The fathers of two of the alleged victims testified Wednesday that Pellebon made them feel uncomfortable due to his strange requests and the amount of attention he paid to their young daughters.

Yet the two mothers who testified Thursday — both of whom were called by prosecutors — seemed to do little to help the state's case.

Both women appeared to have trouble remembering prior testimony they gave, which painted Pellebon in a negative light. At times, both women also appeared hostile toward the attorneys prosecuting the case.

One woman, whose daughter was allegedly stroked by Pellebon while she slept at his Norman home in 2009, showed little concern about the incident.

“If somebody would stroke your hair ... I don't know if that's a big deal,” the woman said.

When asked by prosecutors why she stopped allowing her daughter to visit the Pellebon home after she found out about the hair-stroking incident, the woman said she was more concerned about the “gossip” in the Filipino community.

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by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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