Photo Credit: Shutterstock

MARTINEZ, Calif. (AP) — The attorney for a Northern California man accused of molesting his 9-year-old niece says his client was asleep at the time.

Ralph Dell's attorney, Ernest Castillo, told jurors during Dell's trial on Monday that what happened to the girl is not in dispute. But he said it was the result of the 35-year-old Dell's history of unwanted behavior during sleep.

The Contra Costa Times reports that Dell is charged with sexual penetration of a child and lewd and lascivious acts in connection with the April 2012 incident.

Prosecutors say Dell rubbed the girl's back before slipping his hand in her underwear. She and Dell's daughter were having a sleepover.

Castillo says Dell woke up after he touched his niece, told her what he had done was inappropriate and left the room.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)