Monday, July 15, 2013
Feasterville man held for trial on child sexual assault charges despite victim inconsistencies
Posted: Thursday, July 4, 2013
At age 4, she told investigators that a 38-year-old Feasterville man touched her privates under her clothing during a visit to a Bensalem home.
Before Bensalem District Judge Joseph Falcone, though, the now 6-year-old girl testified the man touched her in a “private spot” over her pajamas.
The difference may sound minor, but legally it’s the difference between a felony and misdemeanor charge for Michael Angelitis, who is accused of molesting the girl and a 7-year-old boy in 2010 and 2011.
Bensalem police started investigating after Bucks County Children and Youth Social Services notified them in 2010 that the boy had alleged that Angelitis tickled him “down there” 10 times and ignored the boy’s requests to stop, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The boy also claimed that Angelitis also showed him his “private parts,” according to police.
Bensalem police said that there was not enough evidence to prove the original case, but it remained active.
At Angelitis’ preliminary hearing Wednesday, the now 9-year-old boy testified that Angelitis offered to show him his comic book collection in his bedroom. After the boy was done paging through the books, he said that Angelitis started tickling him on the bed.
The “tickling” started at his stomach, and progressed to his genital area over his clothing, he testified. He said that he asked Angelitis to stop three or four times, and he did after the fourth request.
How did it make you feel? Bucks County prosecutor Matthew Lannetti asked.
“Uncomfortable,” the boy replied, adding that he told his mom about it the next day.
The prosecutor asked if Angelitis said anything to him while he was touching him.
“He just kept laughing,” the boy said.
A year after the boy claimed he was molested, Children and Youth Social Services made a second police report that Angelitis had touched the breasts and genitals of the 4-year-old, according to police.
After the second alleged incident was revealed, the police investigation was revived, and several interviews were conducted, which led to the arrest in May.
On the witness stand Wednesday, the girl testified that she was sleeping when Angelitis came into the bedroom and touched her chest and genital area. He touched her over her pajamas, she said.
She asked Angelitis to stop touching her, but he didn’t. She added the inappropriate touching happened only that one time.
When cross-examined by defense attorney Michael Goodwin, the girl testified that no one told her that she should say Angelitis touched her when he didn’t. She testified she told her parents what happened.
“Did anyone tell you not to talk about it,” Goodwin asked.
“No,” the girl replied.
The girl’s mother also testified after her daughter returned from the visit, she complained about pain while urinating. When she examined her daughter’s genital area, it appeared red and inflamed, the woman said.
She took her daughter to the doctor, and it was during the office visit that her daughter said that Angelitis had molested her, the woman said.
Bensalem Detective Christopher McMullin testified that he was present at an interview the 4-year-old gave at the Bucks County Children’s Advocacy Center about two weeks after the incident happened in September 2011.
In the interview, the girl stated that Angelitis had touched her on the skin in her genital area, the detective said.
Before McMullin took the stand — and afterward — the prosecution and defense argued over whether the detective could testify about the girl’s 2011 statement, and if the statement itself should be allowed since it contradicted her testimony on Wednesday.
Lannetti argued that the girl’s earlier statement was made closer to the actual incident and would be considered more reliable than testimony given more than a year later.
He added the girl’s prior statement was admissible despite the inconsistencies, the same way an assault victim’s prior statement is admissible in a preliminary hearing even if the person recants on the witness stand.
“She is also 6 years old and may forget what happened a year-and-a-half ago,” the prosecutor said.
Goodwin countered that Lannetti only wanted the prior testimony included because it supported his case to hold Angelitis for trial on two felony sexual assault charges.
“She would not forget that if it was on top of her clothes or not,” Goodwin added. “We don’t know what caused the inflammation. We can’t speculate.”
In the end, Judge Falcone sided with the prosecution, holding Angelitis for trial on all charges including two felony charges of aggravated indecent assault on a child, as well as misdemeanor indecent assault, unlawful contract with minors and corruption of minors. He is free on $50,000 unsecured bail.
Jo Ciavaglia: 215-949-4181; email: jciavaglia@phillyBurbs.com; Twitter: @jociavaglia