MAYS LANDING — Roderick Knox had six discussions about his foster daughter over two weeks, and never expressed concerns about the girl, her case manager testified Tuesday.
Knox, 45, a suspended Atlantic City fire captain, is on trial for allegedly having sex with the then-15-year-old girl during the three weeks she lived in his Egg Harbor Township home in 2010. But Knox’s defense attorney told jurors during opening statements Monday that the girl — whose name is not being published due to the nature of the charges — had expressed sexual attraction to Knox, and made the allegations because he had promised to tell her Division of Youth and Family Services case worker.
Knox was unable to reach the woman before the girl’s allegations came to light and an investigation began, defense attorney Stephen Funk told the jurors.
Helping Hands Foster Care — a DYFS subcontractor — matched the girl with the Knoxes.
On Tuesday, Helping Hands case manager Dawn Davis testified about six discussions she and Knox had about the girl, all indicating things were going well and there were no problems.
“He said everything was fine and she was adjusting well,” Davis testified about a discussion the two had during a Helping Hands party Aug. 25, 2010, about two weeks after the girl moved in with the family — and two days before the teen says Knox first had sex with her.
There was no mention of inappropriate behavior, Davis told Assistant Prosecutor John Flammer.
During a call Aug. 30, 2010 — the day after the girl says the two had sex for the third time — Knox told Davis that the girl “was adjusting fine in the home.”
Knox did call Helping Hands on Aug. 31, 2010, saying he had been trying to reach the DYFS worker, but said only that they needed certain things for the girl to go to school.
“Was there anything at all indicating behavioral concerns with (the girl)?” Flammer asked.
“No, there was not,” Davis replied.
During cross-examination, Funk asked whether the girl had ever contacted Davis about problems. She said she did not.
“Part of the case manager’s job is to be available to the child as well, is that right?” he asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
During cross-examination that began the second day of trial Tuesday, the girl — now 17 — denied ever telling Knox she didn’t think of him as a foster father but instead in a sexual way.
Funk asked the girl why she tried calling the home after she made the allegations Sept. 1, 2010, and had moved out.
“Isn’t it true you wanted to see what chaos you caused with these false allegations?” he asked.
“No,” she replied.
“Did you really think they wanted to hear from you after this?”
“Miss Marie,” the girl said, using the name she called Knox’s wife, Nicola Marie. “She wasn’t mad, she was upset.”
Funk also asked the girl about her grandmother having her put into the foster-care system because the older woman couldn’t control the teen. She admitted that was true. She also was removed from at least one other foster home because of problems.
But the girl was having no such problems with the Knoxes, according to what Roderick Knox told those at Helping Hands, worker Abigail Malave testified.
“He was saying she was a good kid,” Malave said of a conversation she had with Knox at the Aug. 25 party. “He didn’t have any problems with her. She was respectful.”
On cross-examination she said she didn’t recall Knox initially having concerns about the girl’s placement with his family due to her history.
The state will continue presenting witnesses today before Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury.
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