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BLOOMINGTON — A Bloomington man offered candy to a preteen girl to entice her from her bed to engage in sex with him, the child testified Monday in the suspect’s sexual assault trial.

The pattern of alleged rape began about four years ago when James Shields was in a relationship with the girl’s mother and continued for several months, according to the alleged victim, who is now a teenager.

Shields, 31, is charged with predatory criminal sexual assault.

The girl told jurors Shields woke her up with an offer of candy. When she went to the living room, Shields allegedly undressed her and forced her to engage in sex.

The minor described "a flashback" that occurred in April during a disagreement with her father in which she disclosed the alleged assaults. 

"I just told him," the child said of her disclosure, which included revealing Shields telling her to keep the alleged abuse a secret.

The girl's father testified that she was "very upset, crying and shaking" when she told him about Shields.

In her opening remarks to the jury, Assistant State’s Attorney Erika Reynolds said Shields was paid $1,000 a month from the state to baby-sit the alleged victim and her siblings while their mother worked.

Shields “broke the cardinal rule of baby-sitting — he harmed one of those children,” said Reynolds.

Defense lawyer Jennifer Patton told the jury the case “comes down to credibility.” She asked jurors to listen closely to the alleged victim’s testimony and compare that account to a videotaped interview of the child conducted after the child's disclosure in May at the McLean County Children’s Advocacy Center.

The interview is expected to be played in court Tuesday when the trial continues.

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Contact Edith Brady-Lunny at (309) 820-3276. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_blunny

McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.