PROVO — A 17-year-old girl testified Monday that when she was younger, her relationship with a then-27-year-old neighbor became more of a girlfriend-boyfriend relationship that culminated in sexual activities.

Samuel Seager, now 33, is headed toward trial on 12 felony charges, including aggravated sex abuse, forcible sex abuse, sodomy and sexual exploitation of a child, stemming from alleged sexual conduct with the girl, which began when she was 11 years old. The girl — the Deseret News doesn't name victims of sex crimes — took the stand Monday afternoon during a preliminary hearing in 4th District Court and testified that she frequently went with her siblings and Seager on outings, including swimming.

One time while swimming, she alleges he was holding her and began touching her genital area.

"Did you say anything to Sam about touching you in a way you thought was inappropriate?" asked defense attorney McKay King.

"I don't think so," the girl replied.

There were other times where she had been watching a movie at Seager's house and he began touching her breasts and genital area, she said. "As you grew older, what was your relationship with Mr. Seager like?" prosecutor Randy Kennard asked the girl.

"I think it turned out to be like a boyfriend-girlfriend thing," she said.

The victim said the touching continued for years and that she finally talked with her LDS bishop about it in November 2007.

King argued before Judge Darold McDade that his client shouldn't be bound over for trial on aggravated charges because he did not have a special position of trust, nor did he entice her.

"I argue that they (have) not presented any believable evidence that he enticed her to do this," King said. "It was her testimony she invited him over; she went to his house without invitation. This was her pursuing what she thought to be a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship." Kennard argued that despite no titled position of trust, Seager was an adult who had control over the victim because he had been allowed to take the children on outings.

"Clearly this is a grooming," Kennard said. "This is a situation where the defendant is grooming this child for the purposes of taking advantage of her."

The family had known Seager for years, and the parents had rules that the children had to be together when they were with him.

"Sometimes they would go out and get a Slurpee at 7-Eleven," said the mother. "Sometimes he took them swimming. He was kind of like an uncle."

"Have there been any times where he's communicated with you directly about your daughter in any way that caused you any suspicion?" Kennard asked the mother.

"When she turned 16, he asked me if he could take her on a date, and I said, no way," the mother said.

The mother also testified that Seager gave her daughter gifts of yellow roses one Valentine's Day, a teddy bear and a collectible American doll.

Kennard asked the girl if she had been with Seager at times when her parents wouldn't have known.

"Yes," she said. "I snuck over to his house; he was over when they were gone." The girl also said that sexual things had happened when she went over to his house. King pointed out the girl went on her own, Seager didn't ask her to come.

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