Crime

Accused of raping a child, he claims the false story stems from a custody battle

Matthew Sheffer arrives for his trial

Matthew Sheffer arrives for his trial Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018 at the Centre County Courthouse. Sheffer is accused of raping an 11-year-old child when the child’s mother left for work.
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Matthew Sheffer arrives for his trial Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018 at the Centre County Courthouse. Sheffer is accused of raping an 11-year-old child when the child’s mother left for work.

The trial for a Port Royal man accused of raping an 11-year-old girl when her mother left for work began on Wednesday.

Deputy District Attorney Sean McGraw told the jury of nine women and three men that the case involves just three people — Matthew Sheffer, the child and the child’s mother.

McGraw said Sheffer, 37, met the child’s mother while playing an online video game in the summer of 2011. The two continued to talk on Facebook before Sheffer ultimately moved in with the woman in Maine in the winter of 2013. McGraw said Sheffer fit in well with the family because they were coming out of a contentious custody battle.

Sheffer eventually convinced the child’s mother to move to Millheim, but their relationship began to deteriorate because he was not contributing financially. Instead, he was spending her money in an effort to start a furniture business.

The “culminating event,” according to McGraw, occurred when the child’s mother heard Sheffer having a phone conversation where he said he was going to spend more money to get the furniture business started. She asked him where he was going to get the money and he said he was going to write a check for it.

The woman checked her bank account and found he already spent a substantial amount of money, which prompted her to end their relationship.

In April 2016, the mother told Sheffer, “I can’t support you anymore.”

She gave him 30 days to find somewhere else to live, but he did not make any arrangements, according to McGraw.

Then, in July 2016, McGraw said the child came to her mother extremely upset and said, “I have something to tell you.”

McGraw said Sheffer would ask the child to try on swimsuits, showered with her, asked her to try on her mother’s underwear and raped her. He also allegedly said society had it wrong because if two people agreed on something, they should be able to do what they want.

“This case is relatively simple,” McGraw said.

Public Defender Elizabeth Ramos began her opening statement by saying that Sheffer is innocent.

“None of this, in fact, actually happened,” Ramos said. “This is a story, an awful story, that was not true.”

She said the story was made up by the child’s father because he wanted custody of his daughter.

“If there’s one thing (the father) can’t stand, it’s losing,” Ramos said. “When (the father) does lose, Matt becomes a marked man.”

Ramos said the child’s mother constantly accused Sheffer of cheating on her and the drama continued even after Sheffer was listed as a protected party on the protection from abuse order.

“(The father) is the type of person to do whatever it takes to get what he wants,” Ramos said.

She finished her opening statement by saying there is no medical or DNA evidence to support the claims and there were no concerned teachers, staff or friends.

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