BOSTON (AP) — The star witness at the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, the reputed gangster’s former partner, tried Tuesday to counter the defense’s claims that he’s a pedophile by lobbing the same accusation back at Bulger.
Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi had acknowledged in testimony that he engaged in oral sex with his longtime girlfriend’s teenage daughter, Deborah Hussey, who had called him “Daddy.”
Flemmi also testified that Bulger strangled Hussey after she started using drugs, getting arrested and dropping their names when she got in trouble.
But Bulger’s lawyer Hank Brennan pressed Flemmi on his assertion and suggested that Flemmi, not Bulger, killed Hussey after she told her mother he molested her. Flemmi didn’t want to be seen as a pedophile, Brennan said.
But Flemmi said that if Brennan wanted to talk about pedophilia, “right over there at that table,” gesturing toward where Bulger was seated.
Bulger glanced at Flemmi but did not visibly react. Flemmi had told jurors earlier that Bulger once took a 16-year-old girl to Mexico with him. He did not say when that was.
Flemmi was in his fourth day testifying against the reputed Boston crime boss at Bulger’s racketeering trial. Bulger, 83, is accused of participating in 19 killings during the 1970s and ’80s while leading the notorious Winter Hill Gang. He fled Boston in 1994 and was one of the nation’s most-wanted fugitives until he was captured in California two years ago.
Flemmi, 79, has pleaded guilty to 10 murders and is serving a life sentence.
Testifying Monday, Flemmi acknowledged that he twice had oral sex with Hussey in what he called “a moment of weakness.”
Flemmi said Hussey’s mother, Marion, had been his live-in girlfriend since Hussey was just a toddler and that she had called him “Daddy” from a young age.
“A girl who called you ‘Daddy’ consented to sex with you?” Brennan asked.
Flemmi said the sexual contact took place when Hussey became “a different person” because of “her demeanor, her lifestyle.” He said she had been frequenting Boston’s Combat Zone, then a center of drugs and prostitution.
Neither Brennan nor Flemmi specified how old Hussey was at the time. She was 26 when she was killed in 1985.
Turning his testimony to her death, Flemmi said he reluctantly agreed to bring Hussey to a home in South Boston.
“Jim Bulger stepped out from behind the top of the basement stairs and grabbed her by the throat and started strangling her,” Flemmi said. “He lost his balance and they both fell on the floor, and he continued strangling her.”