BECKLEY, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Proceedings in Raleigh County Circuit Court took what many would consider to be an unexpected turn when a Shady Spring man on trial for the sexual abuse of his son was acquitted by a jury of his peers Thursday.
Ambrose Mariagnanaprakasam, 49 of Raleigh County, faced 20 counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or a person in position of trust following his October 2021 arrest for alleged crimes against his son which occurred over the span of several years.
Notably, Mariagnanaprakasam did not deny having touched his son’s genitalia, but insisted that the action was taken as a cultural custom and had no sexual connotation whatsoever.
Mariagnanaprakasam, who immigrated from India roughly 15 years ago, began working as a pharmacist and has resided in Shady Spring.
“What he was doing was in his culture was paying homage to having a male heir in his family. He did it openly and obviously to everybody and in front of everybody in the household – his second ex-wife, his stepson, and his daughter, biological daughter,” Attorney David Kirkpatrick tells LOOTPRESS.
“He never disputed that he was touching his child in this way. Nobody had problems with it until the divorce was filed, then all of a sudden it went from being a homage to having a male heir to sexual abuse.”
Kirkpatrick, who represented Mariagnanaprakasam in the trial, asserts that the allegations of abuse boil down to character assassination following a pair of acrimonious divorces.
“This was basically a divorce on steroids as opposed to an actual crime,” Kirkpatrick continues.
“[Mariagnanaprakasam’s] first divorce ended in a bitter custody battle and ultimately, the mother got primary custody. His second wife, once he decided to divorce her, she used these allegations to try to tear him down which ultimately ended up in a child abuse and neglect case. His parental rights were terminated and then he was subsequently arrested and placed on house arrest for the past two and a half years.”
Kirkpatrick goes on to describe the nature of the cultural custom in question, which also entails a specific mantra repeated each time the ritual occurs.
“You only do it with small children, but they touch their child’s genital area, place their hand on their mouth, and then they blow a kiss in the direction of the child,” he says, insisting that the behavior took place under no other contexts.
“Each time he did it, that was the ritual by which he did it. But then the ex-wives and his daughter – who hated his guts – all got together and started concocting a bunch of different stories about what he was allegedly doing to the kid,” Kirkpatrick continues, pointing out that the testimony of the victim in the case aligned with that of the defendant.
“The kid didn’t describe anything but what the dad said he had done.”
The trial ultimately resulted in an acquittal for Mariagnanaprakasam in what Kirkpatrick describes as a hard fought victory.
“It was a hard, hard fight for trial, and [Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney] Ben Hatfield presented a worthy case,” he says. “By the grace of God, the jury, decided for us as opposed to the state and he was acquitted.”
Kirkpatrick says that the focus of his defendant is now on the ordeal of clearing his name following the very public situation which has unfolded over the course of the past two years.
“He gave me permission to discuss all of this with anybody who was willing to listen because he’s been feeling like he’s been accused publicly, and he wants to try to clear his name because he’d never had any sexual connotations to what he was doing whatsoever.”
LOOTPRESS is also told that subsequent contact between the father and son involved at this time will fall to the discretion of the son’s counselor, who is currently located in North Carolina.
BECKLEY, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Opening statements were heard Tuesday in Raleigh County Circuit Court as trial proceedings for a pharmacist’s years-long sexual abuse of his son got underway.
Ambrose Mariagnanaprakasam, 49 of Raleigh County, faces 20 counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or a person in position of trust following his October 2021 arrest for sex crimes against his own son which occurred over the span of several years.
At the time of the arrest, Raleigh County Deputies reported that, between August 11, 2016, and June 27, 2020, Mariagnanaprakasam “engaged in sexual contact with a juvenile male” and “touched the boy inappropriately and would sing songs to him.”
Upon his arrest, Mariagnanaprakasam was held at Southern Regional Jail on a one million dollar bond.
Mariagnanaprakasam immigrated to the U.S. from India about 15 years ago and started working as a pharmacist. He resided in a home at Shady Spring, where the abuse – which involved touching the juvenile male’s genitalia – is said to have occurred.
Bizarrely, the defense in the trial acknowledges the father’s regular engagement in activity involving the touching of his son’s genitalia but claims that the actions in question were not abuse and were in fact part of a regular cultural custom.
This purported cultural custom, referred to in trial as paying homage, is said to have regularly occurred shortly before the boy’s bedtime and after he awoke for the day. The defense asserts that the actions having taken place in the open with no attempts to conceal the act in front of family members indicates that the defendant did not feel as though he was engaging in inappropriate behavior with the juvenile.
Notably, several witnesses – including Mariagnanaprakasam’s ex-wife and his former stepson – claim that the behavior did not occur exclusively at the times and within the context presented by the defense.
This behavior continued, it was revealed during court proceedings, from the time the boy was 5 years old until he was 9 years old, at which point he began to question the practice and the behavior ceased.
The trial will remain ongoing in Raleigh County Circuit Court. Additional LOOTPRESS coverage for the Raleigh County area can be found here.