LISBON - Taking the stand in his own defense, Anthony Mehno claimed the teen-age girl accusing him of rape made up the entire story in order to get attention.
Testifying in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Thursday afternoon, Mehno and his wife, Ashley Mehno, said the teen craved "negative attention."
"It seems to me she was used to negative attention," Ashley Mehno testified. "She would do things like skipping school or fighting for no reason."
Ashley Mehno said she tried to be like a big sister to the teen, give her extra clothes and assist her in other ways to try to help her deal with low-income home life similar to what she dealt with as a teen.
"The girl's been pregnant 17 times from what I've heard," Anthony Mehno said. "She likes negative attention ... attention that's not good."
When Assistant County Prosecutor Timothy McNicol challenged how Anthony Mehno learned this about the teenager who he claimed to barely know, Anthony Mehno continued "I'm sitting here for something I didn't do."
Both Ashley and Anthony Mehno testified about Anthony's concerns about allowing the teenager to babysit the children any longer, claiming the girl was allowed to drink alcohol and use marijuana. Anthony Mehno said he did not care too much for her drinking or smoking.
McNicol questioned Mehno's concerns, noting Anthony Mehno is the one with a felony drug conviction. At another point during testimony Anthony Mehno had said his driver's license was suspended four years following a DUI and they have no car so he could not have driven the girl that night as she testified. Additionally, he admitted to attempting to smuggle marijuana into the jail with him, which caused him an additional charge.
He met Ashley Goudy, the teenager, her mother and their friend while doing community service at the Memorial Building in Salem as part of his sentence.
When asked how he felt when his then girlfriend Ashley Goudy told him about what the teen was accusing him of doing, Mehno said he was sick.
"Like I just dropped from a 100-foot roller-coaster," Anthony Mehno said. "My stomach went up into my throat."
During cross examination, McNicol questioned whether he felt that way because he then knew the teenager had told what happened and he might be caught.
"It made me sick someone would lie about something like this," Mehno said.
However, he had no answers when McNicol asked him how his semen and sperm got into the underwear the teen was wearing or inside of her. He challenged Mehno whether he thought this was something a 15-year-old was able to accomplish in order to get attention.
Earlier in the day the teen testified the matching bra and underwear set were hers, something her grandfather had paid for when they were out shopping together for her birthday. Ashley Mehno testified the bra and underwear set were hers, given to her by her ex-boyfriend prior to her relationship with Anthony Mehno.
"She would have just helped herself to my clothes," Ashley Mehno said about how the girl would have gotten them. "I usually didn't question her about it."
McNicol questioned both Ashley and Anthony Mehno about why forensic evidence showed only Anthony Mehno and the teen's DNA in the underwear.
"Do you think (the teen) magically cleansed them of Ashley's DNA, just to leave yours and hers?" McNicol questioned Anthony Mehno.
He also asked Ashley Mehno why her DNA would not have been in underwear she identified as her own.
"I don't know, washing machine," Ashley Mehno said. He continued by questioning would that have not washed away her husband's DNA also. "I'm not a DNA analyst," she replied.
She went on to claim it was "completely possible" the teen would have put on underwear with her husband's semen on it and wore it, causing the sample to come back positive even on a swab taken during an internal exam.
"There are times she stayed with me and did not shower for weeks," Ashley Mehno said.
McNicol also questioned testimony by both Anthony Mehno and his wife Ashley Mehno claiming although they were about to get married, Anthony Mehno did not have key to the apartment. Ashley Mehno said that because of his felony record, she was not allowed to have him live with her because the apartment was subsidized housing.
Anthony Mehno said he was never there when his girlfriend was not there and lived with his father and grandfather on Merle Road at that time. He said he was not there the night the alleged rape occurred. However, Ashley Mehno claimed the teen's mother did have a key to her apartment and the girl could have been there anytime.
The couple testified Ashley Mehno had been in jail in the early morning hours of that Thursday at the time of the alleged rape because she had failed to appear three times on a theft-related charge. She turned herself in at Municipal Court on Tuesday morning and they kept her in jail until Thursday. Ashley Mehno claimed she had loaned her phone to the teenager on the previous Friday and someone drove her to get it from the teenager after she got out of jail the following Thursday afternoon, which is when she learned of the alleged assault.
McNicol also challenged that story, questioning why Ashley Mehno had told an investigator from the prosecutor's office who was questioning her in preparation for the trial that she had given the girl the phone for the weekend. Ashley Mehno said she mixed up the dates, while McNicol offered her first story did not fit the time frame she needed to explain her phone being with the girl on Thursday.
At the end of the day and out of hearing of the jury, Lewis stated for the record he would like to object to the decision of Judge C. Ashley Pike not to allow testimony regarding an alibi for Anthony Mehno. Lewis said Mehno's father would have testified Mehno was at his house the night of the alleged rape. McNicol added he would have presented rebuttal evidence to that alibi.
Pike had not allowed the alibi testimony after McNicol objected to it because no notice of alibi defense was filed before the trial.