Former WNYW Fox 5 reporter Charles Leaf told jurors in a Hackensack courtroom on Wednesday that he never molested a 4-year-old girl at his Wyckoff home and never viewed child porn on his computer.
Testifying at his own trial in Superior Court, Leaf replied with a series of emphatic “absolutely not” when his attorney asked him if he ever committed the crimes listed in an indictment that charges him with aggravated sexual assault, child endangerment and possession of child pornography.
Leaf, an award-winning investigative journalist, said he joined the U.S. Marines when he graduated from high school and pursued a decorated military career working in an elite embassy-protection unit overseas. He said his father was also a combat Marine from the Korean War, and that he has always lived by the Marine values of “honor, courage and commitment.”
The married father of two said he worked for TV stations in Missouri, Alabama, Michigan and Colorado and started working Fox 5 in New York City in 2006. He said he had been nominated several times for Emmy Awards.
Prosecutors accused Leaf, 44, of molesting the girl, touching her private parts and instructing her to touch him until he reached orgasm. The girl told her nanny in October 2010 that Leaf touched her in her private parts and that he also instructed her not to tell anyone about the sexual acts, prosecutors said. They said the nanny informed a family friend, who then contacted authorities.
After Leaf was arrested, a search of his laptop revealed images of child pornography, prosecutors said.
The girl has since recanted her statement, and she testified earlier during the trial that Leaf never molested her. She also said she initially made the allegations against Leaf because her nanny coached her to do so.
Leaf’s attorneys argued that there was no evidence Leaf was the one who viewed or stored the child porn images on the computer. A key witness supporting that argument was his Leaf’s father-in-law, who testified that he was the one who was viewing child porn on Leaf’s computer.