The jury heard emotional testimony from witnesses and alleged victims Thursday in the sexual battery trial of William “Mike” Crothers.
“There is no excuse of what he did to me,” one of the accusers said during Crothers’ lawyer’s extensive cross examination in Teton County Circuit Court.
After an hour of answering questions from the witness stand in front of a packed courtroom, the teenager called what Crothers did to her “scary, horrifying and traumatic.”
Testimony from her, another accuser and several other teenagers laid out why Crothers, 53, of Wilson, had been charged with sexual battery, unlawful contact and other charges.
Defense attorney Tom Fleener tried to discredit the accusers and witnesses, implying they are dramatic teenagers who can’t prove his client made lewd remarks or assaulted teenage girls.
“I don’t mean to make you cry,” Fleener told one of the accusers, “but when you give completely different versions ... it causes me to ask hard questions.”
The teen said she probably didn’t remember details such as going out and talking to her boyfriend because it wasn’t traumatic, while having Crothers kiss her and grab her butt was memorable because it was traumatic.
After she stopped crying, Fleener asked: “You’re in the theater, correct?”
That triggered gasps from the audience of about 45 people in the courtroom.
One accuser said he saw Crothers kiss his classmate: “He bent down trying to kiss her and she kept going back to try and get away,” he said. “There wasn’t much room for her to go back, and he kissed her.”
Crothers is also accused of grabbing one student’s butt, kissing her again in a hallway in his house and trying to kiss another teenage girl.
The allegations stem from a May 11, 2019, party at Crothers’ John Dodge house. Prosecutors say the defendant’s wife was out of town, and he took an Uber to dinner and the Bras for a Cause fundraiser. A high school party formed at his house while he was gone, and when Crothers came home in a taxi later that night, he joined it, witnesses said.
“He handed a bong to me and told me to loosen up,” another witness testified. “He said he needed some p---y. He was looking at me when he said it.”
The jury of four women and three men heard from nine witnesses Thursday. The trial will continue Friday at 8:30 a.m. with testimony from School Resource Officer Andrew Roundy, who interviewed the teenagers and Crothers after the allegations surfaced. Roundy will likely be the prosecution’s last witness. Then the defense will present its case.
The trial is supposed to wrap up Friday afternoon or evening.
— Rebecca Huntington contributed to this report.