WRAL Investigates

Granville couple accused of child sex charges face trial

Posted August 18, 2011

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— A Granville County man and his estranged wife are set to go to trial next week on allegations of child-sex charges dating to 2004. Meanwhile, one of the two victims is speaking out, hoping that her story will help others.

The Granville County Sheriff’s Office originally investigated the first claim in 2006, but it wasn't until a second girl came forward last year, saying that Marcello Lara III videotaped himself having sex with her, that the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation pressed charges.

Combined, Marcello Lara III, 39, and his wife, Marie Lara, 27, face nearly two dozen sex offense and sexual exploitation charges for crimes in Granville and Orange counties.

Both are set to go to trial in Granville County on Monday, according to the court's calendar, but Marie Lara says she will be testifying against her husband. A court date in Orange County is set for next month.

Granville County prosecutors won't talk about the case.

Search warrants indicate that the abuse claims involve both Marcello Lara III and his wife engaging in sexual acts with the two girls and also taking pornographic pictures and videos of them.

Marie Lara, however, denies victimizing any children, saying her husband manipulated her.

"My biggest thing is that I just didn't see it like I was supposed to," she said. "I can't take it back. I can't change what's happened, but I can change what's going to happen – how I live the rest of my life, and it's never going to be controlled by a man ever again."

The accusations initially surfaced in 2006 after the first girl broke down in school while watching a video about sex abuse.

Now 17, she plans to testify against the couple.

Marcello Lara III and Marie Lara Granville couple accused of child sex charges face trial

"Honestly, there is never going to be enough sentence to take away what they've done to any of these children – my children or anybody (else's)," the girl's mother said. "These kids will have to live with that for the rest of their lives."

Marcello Lara III, who is in the Granville County jail, declined a request for an interview, but his father, Marcello Lara Jr., believes the investigation has been unfair. He says he does not think that his son will get a fair trial.

"I don't believe that he did that. With all my heart, I don't," Marcello Lara Jr. said. "He's never been in trouble his whole life, and now, you tell me all this? I don't believe it."

At least one of the victims says she believes there might be others. She recalls there being many children in the Lara home.

"They acted sexual, and they were only 8 years old, and 8-year-olds shouldn't act that way," she said.

For her, the trial and its outcome are about healing and justice.

"I just want him and his wife to realize what they've done is wrong and that they can't ever change what they've done to children," she said. "They've ruined people's lives."

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  • RJ0526 Aug 19, 2011

    Yeah unfortunately I know this girl " Marie" I let her move in with me & my family because of her troubled life at home! I trusted this girl w/ my children & let her in my home! she was dating my brother in law & tried to sleep with my husband!! She has no friends because of the way she is.. I believe she is guilty all the way! She even tried recently to friend my husband & I on facebook & wouldnt leave me alone & that was reported to facebookl! I hope they get what they deserve.. Thanks for listening...

  • dollibug Aug 19, 2011

    So many crimes happen from things that children are exposed to while growing up....people who dig up criminals past might be quite shocked and surprised at what they would find out...

  • dollibug Aug 19, 2011

    This kind of thing goes on a lot....and everyone just might be quite shocked by the classes of people it happens in....such as very (supposedly) prominent people...that others would dare not expect this kind of thing to take place in....we all wonder what happens to our youth these days...and things which happened to them as children makes a hugh difference in their actions now....and the sad thing is it can be handed down from generation to generation....I speak from finding out just how things like this can take place...

  • Whatever27 Aug 19, 2011

    The wife testifying against the husband makes me think there IS very much truth to what those poor girls are saying. Sounds like she knew very well what was going on and is using him as a scapegoat to get less time. And I'm sorry but there is no excuse for what she allowed to go on in her home. I don't care how 'controlling' a man is. She's a grown woman and she should be able to think like one. One phone call to the police station would have stopped this a long time ago. Or, better yet, a shotgun, which is exactly what I would have used if some pervert tried to rape my kids.

  • jncna2 Aug 19, 2011

    That woman needs to go right to jail with him if they are found guilty! No breaks for cooperating with the court! I am sure she had ample opportunity to leave at some point!

  • mfarmer1 Aug 18, 2011

    "if it involves the children that have come forward, then it should be sufficient to lock them up and throw the key!"

    well there has been many cases going back thirty years that the adults were found guilty but the adults were found innocent when more evidence was uncovered and when kids admitted what they said was not true.

    one of the cases was the McMartin preschool trial.

    so this is not a slam dunk case.

  • dontstopnow Aug 18, 2011

    according to the article the wife is testifying against the husband so there must be some truth to the allegations.

  • Conservative Aug 18, 2011

    "the way it reads for me, there have only been claims of photos, and videos."

    if it involves the children that have come forward, then it should be sufficient to lock them up and throw the key!

  • mfarmer1 Aug 18, 2011

    I wonder if it is true, they have had some time to fabricate the story in there heads. If true they should get the just verdict and time in jail.

    I wonder what evidence, if any, that was recovered.

    the way it reads for me, there have only been claims of photos, and videos.

  • Rebelyell55 Aug 18, 2011

    Looks like a done deal for these two. A very long jail time is needed here, not a slap on wrist and probation.