PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Defense attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the charges against a man accused of raping a girl in Ohio.
The alleged victim and her grandparents died in a fire earlier this year and proceedings were put on hold.
A Mahoning County Judge in Youngstown is considering a motion to dismiss a felony rape charge against 45-year-old Robert Seman.
Seman is accused of raping 10-year-old Corrine Gump. She died in a fire on March 30, the same day the trial was scheduled to begin.
"Hours before the trial was supposed to begin this victim dies in a fire under the most suspicious circumstance," said Mahoning County District Attorney Dawn Cantalamessa.
Gump and her grandparents, Billy and Judy Schmidt, were killed in an early morning fire at their home on Powers Way in Youngstown, Ohio.
Prosecutors plan to go forward with the rape case, using statements given to a nurse and a caregiver for Gump.
In addition to the rape charge, Seman is also accused of bribing a witness.
Prosecutors say he offered a witness $10,000 to say that Gump was lying when she said Seman raped her.
"She was absolutely a beautiful little girl, very articulate, only 10 years old," said Cantalamessa. "Somebody who did not deserve these things that happened to her."
The cause of the fire is still undetermined, although sources close to the investigation say on the day of the trial, Seman showed up in court with burns on his body, concealing them by using makeup.
If convicted of rape, Seman could face life in prison.
Seman remains locked up in the Mahoning County Jail, while the judge decides whether to drop the charges.
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