Trial continues Friday after alleged sexual battery victim testifies against Austintown Trustee
Testimony is scheduled to continue Friday in the case of Austintown Trustee Steve Kent, who is accused of sexual battery during his time as a resource officer in the Poland Local School District.
During the first day of testimony, Kent's alleged victim took the stand to describe her alleged experiences with him.
The alleged victim testified that all three instances of the alleged sexual conduct occurred off school property outside of school hours in Kent's personal truck.
According to the alleged victim's testimony, the contact between her and Kent began in 2019. She said she felt like Kent cared about her, but viewed him more as an adult figure who wanted to help her, rather than a romantic interest.
The alleged victim testified that Kent's son died during her freshman year and that he used that as a way to get closer to her because she had lost her mother at a young age. Kent allegedly suggested the alleged victim be friends with his daughter to cope with that death.
Eventually, the alleged victim testified that Kent began making comments about her clothes and her body, which made her uncomfortable, but she was too scared to say anything.
According to the alleged victim's testimony, this was followed by the exchange of explicit photos through Snapchat, which Kent allegedly initiated. The alleged victim says she was intimidated by Kent, so she continued to send explicit pictures of her own.
The alleged victim went on to say the first time she got into Kent's truck, Kent showed her his gun claiming he always carries it on him. She testified that she was "very terrified" when she saw the gun and that this made her scared to tell others about Kent's alleged conduct.
The alleged victim described this conduct as the "most traumatic thing that's ever happened" to her.
The defense argued that at one point, Kent told the alleged victim to stop messaging his Instagram account, stating that three weeks went by with no communication before it eventually started again.
At one point, the alleged victim said Kent told her he loved her, but she only said it back because she felt obligated to and that there would be more touching at school than a school resource officer should do with a student.
The defense argued that during this time, the "Steve Kent Hugs Scholarship" was started around the time his son died, so he hugged everyone, not just the alleged victim.
Kent is currently serving as a trustee in Austintown but has not filed for reelection. The deadline to do so was Wednesday, August 9 at 4:00 p.m. Kent can still run for trustee as a write-in candidate, which must be submitted to the Mahoning County Board of Elections by August 28.
This is an ongoing story. Check back with 21 News online and on air for the latest updates.