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Jurors hear opening arguments in sex abuse trial of Frank Stanley Jr.

NORTHAMPTON — Frank L. Stanley Jr. abused the trust of three young boys, took advantage of them and sexually assaulted them over a period of seven years, a prosecutor alleged Tuesday. And a defense lawyer countered in court by saying those boys are not telling the truth.

Once the trial is over, a jury of 10 women and four men will decide which version they believe.

“This was a violation of trust in the worst possible way,” Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Linda Pisano said during opening arguments in Hampshire Superior Court.

Stanley’s attorney, Jonah Goldsmith of the Committee for Public Counsel Services told jurors the boys are falsely accusing his client.

“They’re accusing Frank Stanley of some very horrific crimes, some very horrific acts, which he didn’t do,” Goldsmith said.

Stanley, 42, of 35 Chmura Road, Hadley, faces 18 charges — six counts of statutory rape of a child, four counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, three counts of distributing obscene material to a minor, three counts of posing a child in a nude or lascivious position, and one count each of indecent assault and battery on a child over 14 and committing an unnatural act with a child.

Prosecutors allege the abuse took place between 2004 and 2011 in Granby and Hadley.

Two of the accusers are brothers and the children of a friend of Stanley’s, Pisano said. Stanley was a mentor of the third accuser, she said, after they had been paired up through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

Pisano said until the abuse began, that boy considered Stanley “the coolest ‘big brother’ ” he could have had.

Pisano said the alleged abuse began after the one-year pairing by the agency ended.

Agency’s response

Renee Moss, program director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County, said in a telephone interview Tuesday that she will testify during the trial at the request of the district attorney’s office.

While she declined to comment on specifics, including whether one of the accusers was paired with Stanley through her agency, Moss said that “since our commitment is so much about child safety, we want to help and cooperate in any way we can.”

Moss emphasized that volunteers at her agency go through a “rigorous” screening process before they are paired with children. The process involves criminal background checks, reference checks and interviews — both at the agency’s Amherst office and in a volunteer’s home, she said.

In addition, Moss said the county’s Big Brothers Big Sisters — a program of the Center for Human Development in Springfield — uses an outside “clinical supervisor” once a month to discuss “every volunteer we are about to match and every child and family, to help us troubleshoot.”

The home visits and use of the outside expert are two ways the local agency exceeds the safety standards of the national Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, Moss said, adding, “I hope the public realizes that safety is what drives us.”

Brothers disclosed

Pisano said the brothers considered Stanley to be a “second father” or “cool uncle.”

As a matter of policy, the Gazette does not identify victims or alleged victims of sex crimes.

Pisano alleged Stanley forced one of the boys to have sex and to perform sex acts on a life-size “sex doll,” touched another inappropriately, and posed the third naked and simulated sex acts with him, paying him between $200 and $300 to do so, among other accusations. Stanley allegedly showed all three pornography, according to Pisano.

Prosecutors said in November of 2011, a relative of two of the boys discussed a news program about child predators with the boys, which prompted their disclosure of the alleged abuses.

After Stanley was told relatives of the boys were going to contact police, he left the area for a month. He was apprehended in Florida in December 2011 on a Massachusetts warrant for his arrest and brought back to face charges in the case.

Goldsmith told the jury that Stanley had innocent relationships with the boys. He acknowledged that Stanley had sex toys, but denied his client ever touched, abused, filmed or was abusive to any of the boys.

He suggested the children could easily have just found items in Stanley’s living space on their own.

Goldsmith said Stanley’s decision to leave the area was not because he was guilty and that information supporting that claim would be presented at trial.

Goldsmith said the accounts of the boys, each of whom are expected to testify, are inconsistent and do not demonstrate the behavior of abuse victims.

“These stories don’t make sense, because they didn’t happen,” said Goldsmith.

“You may not like what you hear, it may disturb you,” Goldsmith told the jury. “But you need to focus on the evidence.”

The trial is expected to continue through next week.

Staff Writer Barbara Solow contributed to this report. Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.

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