ROSS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – Nathan Buttenfield, 41, rushed past reporters without a word Wednesday.
One of his students from his gym glass, a 7-year-old second grader, would testify he touched her inappropriately.
When it was said and done, the judge had some concerns about the consistency of her testimony. Defense Attorney William Difenderfer had those same concerns.
“For the judge to have that kind of concern at this level, obviously, a tell-tale sign of the strength of the case,” Difenderfer said.
The 7-year-old told the court she knew the difference between a truth and a lie, and she pointed out the teacher she says touched her private parts.
It was several days before she told her parents because, “I didn’t think it was a big problem. I’m only in second grade and I don’t know everything yet.”
“When I see a young girl like this testify as smoothly as she did, I am very curious as to how that happened. With lack of nerves, a 7-year-old girl? And her vocabulary and how she described this was, to me, very rehearsed. It appears to me to be very rehearsed,” Difenderfer said.
Difenderfer says 80 percent of what the child described as contradictory.
In the criminal complaint, she told police Buttenfield was putting equipment away in a closet in the gym back in October. She says she went in, says he grabbed her by her hips and lifted her to touch the ceiling.
On Wednesday, she claimed the gym class of 22 students was playing a game of “Ghostbusters,” a combination of hide-and-seek and tag. She says the lights were out in the gym and as she was hiding, Buttenfield came up behind her, put his hand on her hips and private parts. She mentioned nothing about the closet.
“I can tell you that in terms of the lights off, the closet and a lot of the details she gave are incorrect, and we’ll be able to clearly show that,” Difenderfer said.
In the end, the District Justice held the case for court based on the fact that the 7-year-old didn’t waiver on how and where Buttenfield allegedly touched her.
Buttenfield is on unpaid leave from the North Hills School District.