A Massachusetts man accused of raping and impregnating an 11-year-old girl denied the charges and stated that the girl may have had sex with him while he was asleep.
Justin J. Armstrong, 38, was arrested July 21 after tests revealed the girl was four months pregnant. He appeared in court three days later where he pleaded not guilty to one count of rape of a child by force, according to The Springfield Republican.
Assistant district attorney Jill O'Connor reported that the victim told police Armstrong had sexually assaulted her repeatedly for a period of 18 months. Armstrong reportedly warned her on several occasions not to tell anyone. She kept it a secret until July 9, when she disclosed the abuse to one of her mother's friends.
During his interview with police, Armstrong denied the accusations and claimed that the girl told him she was being sexually abused by a relative. When he was told of her pregnancy, Armstrong reportedly told investigators that the girl may have raped him while he was asleep.
The victim terminated her pregnancy less than a week after it was discovered. O'Connor confirmed that DNA testing was performed on the fetal tissue, but added that the tests were not yet complete.
Judge Robert Murphy set Armstrong's bail at $50,000 and ordered him to stay away from his alleged victim.
O'Connor had requested that bail be set at $50,000, pointing to the nature of the alleged crime and the lengthy prison sentence the suspect faces if found guilty.
Armstrong's defense attorney, Anna-Marie Puryear, requested that bail be set at $3,000, citing her client's denial of the charges. That is reportedly as much money as Armstrong's family could put up.
Puryear argued that it was unfair to set such a high bail before the DNA test results come in, since at this point there is no physical evidence of Armstrong's guilt.
She added that Armstrong, who grew up in Springfield and has no criminal record, voluntarily submitted a DNA sample and has cooperated with police.
"All his ties are here [in Springfield]," she said, asserting that her client does not pose a flight risk.
Armstrong is scheduled to appear in court for a pretrial hearing Aug. 24.
According to Jane Doe Inc., nearly 50 percent of women in Massachusetts have been victims of sexual abuse other than rape. More than 1 in 7 Massachusetts women have been raped.