Strom enticement, intimidation trial begins
The founder of the white supremacist National Vanguard, Kevin Strom, 50, went on trial today for enticing a minor and intimidating a witness– the witness being his wife, Elisha Strom.
In a quavery voice, Elisha Strom, 32, testified about finding her husband naked and aroused, looking at photos of two girls whose heads had been transposed onto naked bodies. "They didn't look right," said Elisha of the girls, who were affiliated with the National Vanguard. "Their bodies didn't match what they look like."
Earlier, in motions regarding the introduction of the photos of the two girl singers, Judge Norman Moon declared that it was not illegal to look at the photos and said, "It's not against the law to sit there naked."
Elisha Strom also told of awaking October 17, 2005, to find her husband looking at images of a little girl. "I didn't know what to do," she testified. "I wanted to talk to someone."
She had the phone in hand when her husband said he wasn't going to let her make a call and then began choking her. "I hit him with the telephone," she testified. His parents took a bloody Kevin Strom to the hospital.
About a year later, after reporting to the police her husband's interest in photos of girls, Elisha Strom was arrested for assaulting Kevin, and she was served a flurry of legal complaints, including a protective order to stay away from Strom. These filings, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Gould, exemplify Kevin Strom's attempts to intimidate a witness.
Also testifying were a 12-year-old girl, who the government says Strom was trying to entice into a sexual relationship, and her mother. Strom allegedly sent the girl anonymous gifts– a sweater and a Tim McGraw CD for Christmas 2005 in a package from "Santa Claus," pink roses and white lilies on the girl's 11th birthday, and another Christmas package in 2006 containing a Peter Pan DVD.
By the time the last package arrived, the mother had become so concerned she took it to the police. "I was really, really uncomfortable," she says.
The Orange County girl and her mother had met Kevin Strom at the United Christian Academy, a Ruckersville private school, where his stepdaughter became friends with the then-nine-year-old. At the end of the 2006 school year, the mother moved the girl to public school in Orange.
The girl's mother testified to an unease around Strom, but the examples raised few eyebrows in the courtroom. Strom gave her pictures of her daughter and his stepdaughter and invited her to coffee. The mom also reported seeing his maroon van driving by her house, seeing Strom one day, near the end of the school year, parking his van and standing behind a tree, and she testified that her daughter spotted him at the Orange County Fair in July 2006.
The 12-year-old alleged object of Strom's adoration told the jury that he'd stopped her in the hall of United Christian Academy and asked why her mother wasn't answering his phone calls. "I told him to stop calling, we weren't going to pick up," the middle schooler said.
The prosecution introduced Strom's computers, which FBI forensic specialists said contained thousands of images. Among the items retrieved was a song to be sung to "Here We Come a Wassailing" with the lyrics, "Once I met a pretty girl, her name was [NAME OF 12-YEAR-OLD]... I will be showered with the kisses of [NAME] and we'll be married." In a second version of the song, the girl's last name had been changed.
"The case isn't nearly as sinister as the government makes it," said Andrea Harris, Strom's attorney, in her opening statement. She portrayed Elisha Strom as "quick to anger" and "violent," and promised the jurors, "I think you'll see he's not guilty, and in fact, no crime was committed."
Judge Moon adjourned for the day in the middle of Elisha Strom's tearful testimony.
Upcoming: The contract between Kevin and Elisha Strom in which he promises to get counseling until he is cured of pedophilia.
Strom faces child porn charges in a separate trial in January.