The three-day jury trial of an Albany man accused of sex crimes against an adolescent girl started in Linn County Circuit Court on Monday.

Shae Dee Mitchell is accused of three counts of first-degree sex abuse and one count of second-degree sex abuse.

The crimes allegedly occurred from 2014 to early 2016. The investigation into the case started in June 2016.

“It began then because the girl first spoke to a friend about what had happened to her,” prosecutor George Eder said, during opening arguments. The friend’s mother then notified authorities after she became aware of the allegations.

Eder added that while Mitchell initially denied the accusations in an interview with Albany Police Department detectives, he later admitted that something happened twice, but said the girl initiated the contact — for instance, the girl grabbed his hand and put it on a private area.

Joan Demarest, Mitchell’s defense attorney, said that the girl's story changed significantly over time depending on who she was talking with and the outcome she was seeking.

Only after the girl talked with police did the accusations become serious.

Demarest also said that Mitchell, a Navy veteran, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, and would therefore be vulnerable to a false confession during a lengthy police interview.

“There is more doubt in this case than any reasonable person can tolerate,” Demarest said.

At the time of his arrest, in June 2016, Mitchell was working as an office specialist for the Oregon Department of Human Services in Corvallis.

Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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