In explosive newly released evidence, a female relative alleges in heartbreaking detail that George Zimmerman molested her — when she was just 6 years old.
The recordings, taped March 20, make clear that the woman called the Seminole County State Attorney’s Office on March 19 with information she wanted to share. She said she spoke with investigators Jim Rick and Jim Post, according to NJ.com.
Zimmerman's attorneys later identified the woman as a cousin, USAToday reports.
The woman said she is two years younger than him, and, from the statement, it’s clear their families spent a lot of time together. When she was 6 and her family was in the process of moving from Louisiana to Orlando, she and her sister were sent to stay with the Zimmermans at their home in Virginia, she said.
The children would hang out on sofas under blankets watching TV, and Zimmerman, about 8 at the time she claims, would use the opportunity to fondle her chest and put his down his pants, penetrating her vagina with his fingers.
“That’s my earliest memory of him trying to do things. He would reach under the blankets,” she said.
She claims once when she was about 12, he allegedly stepped up the physical touch and made her rub his penis. She did not say he ever penetrated her.
“He was bigger, and stronger and older," she said, her voice sounding almost apologetic that she couldn't push him off of her. "I was a kid. I didn’t know any better.”
And she couldn't tell her parents. She said Zimmerman knew how to charm his way into their hearts, especially her father, who thought of him as the son he never had.
“He just sucked up to my dad,” she said. “He was like the son he never had. He was always very charming and personable with everyone in the family and would always just laugh and entertain everybody. But he was different behind closed doors with me.”
The alleged abuse continued at least once a year for as long as 10 years, she said.
He trained her with his eyes, she said. It got to the point that whenever he wanted it to happen he would get a certain look in his eyes.
"I wanted to make it stop, but I didn't know how," the woman tearfully tells Sanford, Fla., detectives in the interviews.
Don't release the tape
Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s lawyer, tried unsuccessfully at the last minute to block the special prosecutor from releasing the tape, which he said was irrelevant and prejudicial.
But lawyers for The Miami Herald, The Orlando Sentinel and other media argued for the release of the calls and the witness statement. At the June 29 hearing, the media attorneys argued successfully against sealing the statements.
Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth R. Lester ordered the document released under Florida’s public records law, the Toronto Star reported.
Lester said nothing in Florida’s public record law allows for such information to be kept secret. By law, evidence the prosecution turns over to the defense — called “discovery” — is public record. There are exceptions for things such as telecommunications records and confessions.
They like black people if they act white
O’Mara also sought to block the release of another tape in which the same witness first called investigators just days after the shooting of Trayvon Martin to report that Zimmerman and his family were racists who disliked blacks.
"Growing up he and his family always made statements that they did not like black people unless they act white," she told police. "They like black people if they act white."
He wrote in a motion that the statement "is not relevant" to the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and would "serve to reignite and potentially enhance the widespread public hostility toward Mr. Zimmerman," according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The killing of Martin set off a national outcry among the African-American community because of the suspicion that Zimmerman, had profiled Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, because he was black.
Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda said he may call “witness 9” as a rebuttal witness at trial.
“She certainly would be a rebuttal witness very similar to that in the Sandusky trial showing that he has a history of violence and manipulation,” said Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the parents of the unarmed teenager Zimmerman killed on sexual abuse allegations. “Zimmerman’s mentality is very relevant to this trial.”
He can’t get to me
She said the last incident occurred when she was 16, and the Zimmermans had recently moved to Florida. She said he lay down next to her with an erection and began kissing her and rubbing her chest, but she got up and ran out. He chased her as far as the front door but no further, she told the two investigators.
“I wanted it to just stop," she said, chocking back tears. " I didn’t want to ever have to tell anyone."
She never went to the police, because she said her mom told her that cases like hers become “he said-she said,” and it would get dropped or she would wind up in jail.
It is not mentioned whether Zimmerman's father, Robert Zimmerman, a retired U.S.magistrate judge, influenced the decision.
Zimmerman’s parents “pushed it under the rug and pretended it never happened,” she said.
Now discouraged from reporting it and others pretending it didn't happen, not knowing what to do, she tried to do the same. But there was a side effect to this approach.
“I tried so hard to forget it all and to make it go away that I even forgot the good stuff in life,” she said.
“There is things that my family talks about that sounded so awesome but I don’t remember them. It sounds like they are talking about somebody else.”
Why then, investigators asked on the tape, was she coming forward now?
“It’s the first time in my life I’m not afraid of him,” she said, her voice growing stronger. “He can’t get to me."