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December 22, 2014

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14-year-old accuser takes stand in Saudi airman’s trial on rape charges

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Defense attorney Don Chairez addresses judge Stefany Miley (not pictured) about his opening statements during the jury selection process for the trial of Mazen Alotaibi, left, in justice court, Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, in Las Vegas.

Mazen Alotaibi Hearing

Mazen Alotaibi appears in Las Vegas Justice Court for a hearing at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas on Thursday, January 17, 2013. Alotaibi is charged with burglary, first degree kidnapping, two counts of sexual assault with a minor and sexually motivated coercion. Launch slideshow »

A soft-spoken boy from California testified he was startled when a Saudi airman offered to pay him for sex, but figured instead of having sex, he could trick the Saudi and make off with some marijuana and money.

But the boy was wrong last New Year’s Eve at Circus Circus, and by the time he realized he didn’t have the upper hand he couldn’t figure out how to escape, the boy, now 14, testified.

“I was freaked out. I wanted to leave. I didn’t know what to do,” the boy testified today in Clark County District Court.

Mazen Alotaibi, 24, a sergeant in Saudi Arabia's air force, has pleaded not guilty to nine felonies, including first-degree kidnapping, sexual assault with a minor and lewdness.

The Saudi government is paying for Alotaibi’s defense.

The teen, who has grown roughly five inches in the nine months since the alleged incident, was the first witness to testify in the rape trial. Wearing a dress shirt, slacks and sneakers, the teen confirmed on the stand that he’d lied to police in his original statement, testifying he’d gone willingly with Alotaibi to the Saudi’s room at Circus Circus, where both were staying.

While waiting for a friend to wake up so they could grab breakfast, the boy noticed Alotaibi and his friends, the teen testified. Thinking the men looked high, the teen decided to follow them in hopes he could get some marijuana.

After some talk about the boy’s age and some conversation in Arabic the boy didn’t understand, Alotaibi asked the teen to go to the ground level of the hotel, the boy testified.

In the elevator, Alotaibi started kissing the teen’s neck, the boy testified.

The boy further testified he didn’t want to do anything sexual, but he wanted the weed so he shrugged off the elevator incident and went with Alotaibi to smoke in an alley outside the hotel.

“I knew something bad was going to happen in the end, but I just kept on going,” the teen told the court.

In the alley, Alotaibi proposed he pay the boy for sex and the boy agreed. He thought he first could get Alotaibi to hand over the marijuana and the cash for sex, then make a run for it, the boy testified.

When they went to Alotaibi’s room, the boy started to get scared and told Alotaibi he wanted to forget the whole deal. Alotaibi ignored the request and instead offered to pay more, the teen testified.

Alotaibi told the teen to go into the bathroom and raped him, the boy testified during his hour on the stand.

Alotaibi watched the testimony from the defense table, listening to an Arabic translation of the proceedings through an earpiece. Two interpreters sat behind him murmuring translations into a transmitter.

During opening statements Friday, attorneys told jurors to prepare for differences in what the boy told the police and what he would testify to on the stand.

The boy originally told police Alotaibi had dragged him into the hotel room and neglected to say anything about trying to buy marijuana from Alotaibi.

Prosecutor Jacqueline Bluth, in her opening statement, portrayed a boy who was ashamed, terrified and didn’t want to get caught trying to score some pot.

Bluth described for the jury surveillance footage she planned to introduce later in the trial that shows the boy bolting from the hotel room after the alleged rape. Bluth said the footage would show the teen frantically looking around, punching the button to close the elevator doors.

Alotaibi’s attorney Don Chairez painted a picture of a lying child prostitute who was hitting up Alotaibi for marijuana and money and afterward kept telling authorities a different story.

Chairez also addressed the surveillance footage, suggesting that perhaps the boy just wanted to make sure he caught the elevator.

Alotaibi remains in Clark County Detention Center on a $1.72 million bail. If convicted, Alotaibi could spend the rest of his life in prison.

The trial is scheduled to continue Tuesday before Judge Stefany Miley.

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