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Chambersburg man bound over for trial on charges of indecent assault on mother

May 21, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- A Chambersburg man charged with indecent assault against his mother in a nursing home was ordered bound over for trial following a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Franklin County Central Court.

The 50-year-old man was charged by Pennsylvania State Police with first-degree misdemeanor indecent assault against a person incapable of giving consent because of a mental disability and a second-degree misdemeanor charge of indecent assault without consent. The more serious charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

The name of the defendant is being withheld by The Herald-Mail to protect the identity of the victim.

The incident occurred on the night of March 20 at the Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, said Betty Burns, a nurse's aide who testified at the preliminary hearing. She was in the dining hall of the dementia wing when a nurse told her to "keep an eye" on the son, who was sitting with his 84-year-old mother.

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Burns testified she saw the son pull his mother's chair closer toward his and that he touched her inappropriately. The son then began kissing the woman, Burns testified.

Defense attorney Eric Weisbrod asked Burns on cross-examination whether she said anything to the man after seeing what he had done.

"To him? No," Burns replied. "I thought it was disgusting, and look at the size of him," she testified of the defendant, a heavyset man.

Dr. Barry Parks, the administrator of the nursing home, testified that the woman was admitted to the home through protective services of the Area Agency on Aging in August 2007. The affidavit of probable cause stated that, at that time, there were indications the woman had been neglected, abused and possibly sexually molested.

On several occasions, Parks testified, he was notified by staff regarding inappropriate behavior by the son during visits with his mother. The affidavit stated that included lewd comments to staff regarding his mother.

Parks said the incident that Burns witnessed was reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, as required by law.

Weisbrod asked Magisterial District Judge Todd R. Williams to dismiss the charges for lack of probable cause because there was no evidence of lack of consent or that the man's contact was for sexual gratification.

"I think the evidence was solid," Williams said.

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