NORMAN — A young woman testified Wednesday that former University of Oklahoma professor Dwain Pellebon “creeped me out” when she woke up at his Norman home following a sleepover years ago.
“When we woke up, he was watching us sleep,” the 22-year-old woman said. “Just sitting there. Kinda creeped me out.”
The defendant was painted by witnesses as the kind of man who made people feel uncomfortable, either by his questionable touching of young girls or because of the strange requests he would make.
Pellebon was arrested in December 2011 and charged with numerous sex crimes against children in Cleveland County District Court. He resigned his job as a social work professor shortly thereafter.
The jury trial, which started Tuesday afternoon, has been delayed numerous times due to legal wrangling. The effects of the delays were evident as many of the young witnesses appeared to have trouble recalling what they had told investigators during previous interviews.
The jury is made up of eight men and four women.
Victims and their parents will not be named by The Oklahoman to protect their identities.
Made to feel ‘uncomfortable'
The 22-year-old woman testified that Pellebon would give her back massages and watch her use a massage chair “that shook our upper bodies. Our breasts would shake,” the woman said. “He would just sit there and watch.”
The woman said she met Pellebon when she was about 15 and that he had a closer relationship with her younger sister.
During testimony, it was revealed that Pellebon kept a “really, really big” photo of the 22-year-old's sister — described as “poster sized” by a prosecutor — in his office on the OU campus. The woman pointed out that Pellebon didn't have large photos of his own children in the office.
“It just all made me feel uncomfortable,” the woman said.
One girl, now 15, said she woke up one morning and saw Pellebon “petting” a sleeping young girl from her head to her ankles. She said it happened again, to the same girl, some time later.
“I didn't know what to think,” the girl said of the “petting” incident. “I told (the other girl) when she woke up. She was kind of shocked but she got over it.”
The 15-year-old witness testified that Pellebon made her feel uncomfortable on numerous occasions but denied that she ever saw him touch any girls in their “private areas.”
Girl critical of prosecutors
The same girl, who knew the defendant since she was 6, said that she had a tense relationship with the prosecution team and indicated that they seemed to be trying to get her to say certain things to incriminate Pellebon.
She even went so far as to cast doubt on the allegations made by one of Pellebon's alleged victims, who was described as “slow” and “special.”
“She kept adding things and changing things,” the 15-year-old said. “She was just like, ‘Oh yeah, this happened.'”
The fathers of two of Pellebon's alleged victims also testified Wednesday morning, one of them by video.
One of the men said he felt uncomfortable following an odd request made by the defendant.
“He wanted her to call him an uncle,” the man, who has two daughters, said during his testimony. “I said, ‘No.' It was inappropriate.”
Unwelcome visits to home
The same father said his discomfort with Pellebon grew when the former professor started to “come over to the house uninvited.” He said the defendant would come over expressly to play a chase-like game with his younger daughter.
“At that point I didn't get it,” he said. “At that point I felt uncomfortable. I don't play ... with other kids (in that way).”
Another father, whose testimony was presented to the jury on large video screens in the courtroom, said Pellebon crossed the line with his children right in front of him, once by throwing his young daughter up in the air and catching her.
The father, who wore sunglasses and spoke in a gravelly voice during his videotaped testimony, said his “suspicions” about Pellebon grew after he spoke with other parents in their social circle.
“My concern was that Dwain was having sexual contact with one or more of the children,” he said.
The father, clad in sunglasses, said he reported his suspicions to the state Department of Human Services. The next day, Pellebon was arrested by Norman police, he said.
Testimony in the trial is expected to last until the end of the week.
Pellebon, who once helped train DHS workers, has been free on bail since shortly after his arrest.