“I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared,” a 14-year-old girl testified, reliving the day she said she was followed home from school by a stranger.
The trial against 75-year-old Keith McCullough began Wednesday at the Quinte Consolidated Courthouse in Belleville in front of Justice Madame Elaine Deluzio. Assistant Crown Attorney Lynn Ross is prosecuting the case against the Trenton man who stands accused of following a 13-year-old home from her west-end school in 2016.
In September 2016, Belleville police began an investigation after they received a complaint that the girl had been followed. It led them to charge McCullough with three counts of criminal harassment.
With his lawyer John Wannacott by his side, McCullough entered not guilty pleas to each of the three counts against him on Wednesday.
The court then watched a video statement taken by police from the girl whose name is protected under a publication ban.
The teen explained how she was listening to music on her way home from school when a woman started waving her down asking her if she knew who was driving the car behind her. According to the girl, the woman indicated the car was following her.
The girl said she proceeded to cross the street, the brown car waited for her to cross and then it followed her. She noticed it then turned around and parked in the opposite direction.
“I looked back a few times and he turned onto the grass on the other side of the street,” she explained. “He jumped the curb onto the grass. I found that really weird. I called my mom because I was worried the brown car was following me so I started walking quicker.”
She said the car then turned around, drove past her and parked on the same side of the street facing her.
“If I was to continue walking I would have to go beside his door,” she said. “I was frantic by then. I told my mom I didn’t want to go beside the car…I’m terrified because I don’t know what is going on…I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared…Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.”
Under the advice of her mother, the girl fled back to her school where she ran into a teacher coaching soccer practice. The teacher would later testify that she took the visibly upset young girl into the school to relay what had happened to the principal.
The girl would testify that she didn’t see who was behind the wheel, couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman. They didn’t gesture to her or say anything to her. She said she saw the shadow of their head move in her direction and at one point it looked as though they bent down to pick something up. At times she thought the car looked gold in the sun and brown in the shade.
When the girl’s mother arrived at the school, staff advised her to contact police.
While they were leaving the school, the girl and her mom noticed a brown car parked in the parking lot beside their car.
The girl said she got really scared thinking ‘this is the car’ and wondering why it was parked beside her mom’s car. Her mom testified her daughter started screaming, “Oh my God it’s him!”
The mother said she went into ‘grizzly mama bear’ mode. She started taking pictures of the car and yelling at McCullough and asking him why he was in the area and following her daughter. She even pounded her hand on his car.
The mother testified McCullough told her he was in the area waiting for heavy traffic to die down.
The principal told the court that he noticed there was some commotion taking place in the parking lot and when he went out to see what was going on, the car was leaving.
He testified how McCullough returned a short time later and again parked in the parking lot. He said McCullough exited his car and approached him apologizing and explaining that the traffic was heavy and he cam to the school to watch a soccer game while it died down.
The principal said he told McCullough it was private property, taking note of his car to advise staff to be on the look out.
The trial will resume on June 8 with five more witnesses scheduled to take the stand.