By Chris Jones
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — A petite, 14-year old girl wiped away tears during testimony Thursday in the Cleveland County District Court jury trial of Dwain Pellebon, a former University of Oklahoma professor.
After a short break to compose herself, the teen returned to court and was asked to describe the layout of a bedroom in Pellebon’s home where she is alleged to have been molested.
Pellebon, 56, was arrested in December 2011 and charged with sex crimes against children in Cleveland County.
“I woke up and Uncle Dwain was behind me near the wall,” she said. “He was stroking my hair.”
She said a friend of Pellebon’s stepdaughter woke up and saw what was happening and Pellebon asked her what she was looking at. The friend then covered her head with a blanket.
Later, she said the two girls talked and the girl described what she saw.
She said she felt “weird.”
“That triggered what I felt,” she hesitated. “Weird, too.”
As the girls were in the bedroom folding the stepdaughter’s purple, fluffy blanket, she said Uncle Dwain came in the room.
“He gave me a hug and I told him to stop,” she said in a small voice.
She said her friend said stop in a stronger voice, like that of a mother.
She was questioned about the stroking of her hair and body and if Pellebon said anything about it.
“I don’t remember,” she said.
The girl’s mother also was called to testify Thursday. Later in the day, the mother of the friend who witnessed the alleged incident in the bedroom during the sleepover at Pellebon’s home also spoke.
A close Filipino connection: The jury of eight men and four women heard testimony by the mother of the female witness.
She said she came to Norman in 2005 and began working with Pellebon’s wife in 2006. It was the beginning of a close friendship where the families spent time together every week.
“Yes, we were close and we still are,” she said. “We still go over to the Pellebon’s house.”
Throughout her testimony, she repeatedly said, “I don’t remember. I don’t remember” and appeared resentful at the nature of the questions as she painted a happy picture of the defendant and the activities he was involved in with the children.
“They were young and I was confident and secure Mr. Dwain was there for our kids. He was just playing with the children, guiding them.”
She acknowledged to the defense attorney that she was not happy to be in court. She said the questions are difficult and English is not her first language.
Earlier in her testimony, she said the detective might have made up the charges.
The mother of the 14-year-old girl testified in the afternoon and described a large group of friends who shared meals and movies, social events and spent time together.
“He is like a real uncle, a second dad,” she said. “I know my daughter is the favorite, everyone’s favorite in the group.”
She said Pellebon was friends with her daughter on Facebook and bought her gifts. She said she didn’t want people to “talk against her daughter for being with Dwain.”
She, too, repeatedly said she did not remember details.
“Who told you about the incident of the defendant lying in bed with your daughter?” the prosecution said.
She replied that she thought it was the woman who testified earlier in the day, “but I don’t remember.”
Both adult witnesses seemed detached from the alleged incidents involving their daughters. They were vague about times, dates, events and correspondence.
They continually talked about the advantages of having Pellebon as a friend and mentor.
The mother talked about a division in the Filipino community regarding women in social groups and their opinion of the charges, the girls and what should be done and not done.
“If people constantly tell you, ‘This is bad, this is bad,’ there is confusion,” she said. “The issue here is my daughter is really close to Dwain.”
The prosecution asked the mother if the women “talked about Dwain Pellebon lying in bed rubbing your daughter’s body.”
“No,” she replied.
The trial will continue today in District Judge Tracy Schumacher’s courtroom.