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Pa. man pleads guilty in sexual molestation case

February 16, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

A Chambersburg man charged with molesting at least five adolescent boys faces a sentence of 20 to 40 years in state prison after entering a plea agreement Wednesday in Franklin County Court.

Joseph Paul Cioccia, 59, of 2722 Fillmore Drive, pleaded guilty before Judge Carol Van Horn to five counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. He had originally been charged with 16 counts each of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, criminal conspiracy to commit involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, corruption of minors and indecent assault, according to court records.

Cioccia, who has been in jail since he was charged, was pleading guilty to one count involving each of the known victims, Assistant District Attorney T.R. Williams said during the plea hearing. The other charges will be dismissed as a result of the plea agreement, he said.

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"It avoids the victims having to go to court and relive all these incidents" in a trial, Williams said after the hearing. The length of the sentence, he said, "ensures that the defendant will most likely not have the opportunity to engage in this kind of criminal activity again."

The incidents to which Cioccia pleaded guilty occurred between September 2000 and last year, Williams said during the plea hearing. Asked by Van Horn what he had done, Cioccia said he had performed oral sex on the victims.

Most of the families of the victims had been contacted and were agreeable with the proposed sentence, Williams told Van Horn. If the judge goes forward with the sentence agreed to by the prosecution and Public Defender's Office, Cioccia will be 79 before he is eligible for parole, Williams said.

A presentence report was ordered by Van Horn, who set Cioccia's sentencing date for March 29. That date could be pushed back, she said, because Cioccia will also have to be evaluated by the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board to determine if he is a sexually violent predator and qualifies for the lifetime reporting requirements of the state's Megan's Law.

Cioccia is one of three men charged in connection with sexually assaulting the boys, according to court records. When Pennsylvania State Police charged Cioccia in September, they also charged Edgar Stine, 71, of Cleversburg, Pa., in Cumberland County with similar offenses.

Stine allegedly molested the boys and would then bring them to Cioccia's house, police said. The charging documents stated that some of the victims were molested dozens of times by Cioccia and Stine.

Cioccia had given the boys gifts and money in exchange for sex, police said.

Stine's case involves the same victims and at least one other, Williams said. His case is scheduled for the March trial term.

A third man, Karl Joseph Schmieding, 29, of Newville, Pa., was later charged by state police with molesting two of the boys at Cioccia's house in the summer of 2004. His case is also pending.

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