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Testimonies in rape trial continue, focus on forensic evidence

The court heard testimony Tuesday from two forensic scientists who tested the rape kits of alleged victims in Thomas Shifflet’s rape case.

Shifflet, 76, is currently on trial for three counts of gross sexual imposition, one count of rape and one count of sexual imposition for allegedly raping a 4-year-old in June 2011 and molesting 3-, 7-, 11- and 12-year-old children between November 2010 and June 2011.

The incidents were discovered by the Athens County Sheriff’s Office during an investigation of two daycare centers in Trimble and Dover townships.

Sarah Glass, a forensic scientist from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, testified that she tested the rape kit for the 3- and 4-year-old victims taken at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

Glass said she did not find semen or other body fluids in the 3-year-old’s rape kit, but did find body fluids on the 4-year-old’s Minnie Mouse underwear. Glass added the sample was too small to determine if the fluids came from the 4-year-old or another person.

Emily Draper, who worked as a forensic scientist at BCI during the investigation, said in her testimony she did not find any of Shifflet’s DNA on the swabs of the two victims’ mouths, abdomens, thighs and on their underpants.

Draper said DNA transferred by touch is more difficult to detect.

“It is hard to find ‘touch DNA’ in the vaginal area because the vagina is such a rich source of DNA,” Draper said.

She added usually there has to be more than just touching, such as rubbing, for skin cells to be deterred on the other person.

Shifflet is currently out of jail on bond with an electric monitoring device.

He could be sentenced to a maximum of 25 years and two months in prison and a maximum fine of $30,500 if the jury finds him guilty of all charges, according to the Ohio Revised Code.

The trial will continue at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

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