Trial For Tulsa Rape Suspect Underway After Two Decades

Tuesday, August 24th 2010, 5:39 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OKLAHOMA – A Tulsa County rape trial 22 years in the making is expected to be in the hands of a jury on Thursday.

Two days before Christmas in 1987, a 10-year-old girl told her mother she'd been raped.  Charges were filed, a warrant was issued, but the man was never called to account for his alleged crime until now.

That 10-year-old girl is now a 33-year-old woman and testified Tuesday against the man she says changed her life forever.

The victim in this case told the Tulsa County Court jury that her mother's boyfriend began molesting her when she was five years old but she never told anyone until a night when she was ten, when she says he viciously raped her and she decided she couldn't bear for him to touch her ever again.

She said Sylvester Latham raped her that night while her mother was at work. She told her mother the next day, Christmas Eve, and was taken immediately to the hospital.

She had a rape exam, gave a statement to police and her clothes were collected for evidence.

Prosecutors say Latham disappeared until the victim's brother happened to run into Latham's sister last fall in Wichita and learned Latham was living there.

The warrant was still active, so police picked up Latham and he was brought to Tulsa to stand trial.

Latham's attorney says his client wasn't hiding, but was living at a very easy-to-find address, had been married for years and had never been arrested for any type of felony in the past 23 years.

Both sides rested on Wednesday.  The case is expected to be handed over to the jury on Thursday.