Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Bristol Township man headed to trial in prison employee harassment case
Posted: Tuesday, August 11, 2015
A few Bucks County corrections officers knew him as “John, the foot guy,” but to more than a dozen other prison workers, Carl Gaither was an anonymous, annoying, frightening voice with a sexual fetish for feet.
A voice that knew personal details about some of the women, according to testimony at a nearly three-hour long preliminary hearing Tuesday for the 35-year-old Bristol Township man accused of making nearly 1,000 sexually explicit and harassing calls to 25 female prison employees.
He knew one had red hair and another had two kids, they testified. He knew some of their first names, but never gave his during the phone calls. He mostly talked about his sexual fantasies involving their feet, they said.
Witness after witness told the court in Bristol Township similar stories of repeated anonymous sexually explicit calls they received between November and April 1.
The women all worked for Bucks County prison and state prisons in Coal Township in Northumberland County, Camp Hill in Cumberland County and Houtzdale in Clearfield County. Half of the women are corrections officers who work in the same female unit at the Bucks County prison.
Some witnesses said they were annoyed by the caller. One county corrections officer testified the man would keep calling back for 20- to 30-minute stretches, and others said he attempted to get personal information.
Others were alarmed. A nurse at Camp Hill testified the caller once described a sports team sticker on her car, claimed he knew her husband worked at the prison and left a note on her car.
A Houtzdale corrections counselor testified via video conference she received 33 calls from the same man between November and March. The calls kept coming even after her work extension was changed.
One woman testified the calls made her “sick.” Mostly the caller wanted to talk about her feet, though some conversations also involved pantyhose, she told the court. The caller said he wanted to buy her socks.
A clerk at Houtzdale testified she received two calls to her direct extension between January and March. During one, the man asked if she wore pantyhose, saying he wanted to rip them off and have sex, she said. After that, she testified she started transferring his calls to the security office. The caller, who knew her first name, then got angry and threatened her, she said.
The women who testified said that after the calls kept coming, they were directed by their respective prison security offices to try to keep him on the phone to get more information such as his name. The closest he got was calling himself “John, the foot guy,” one woman said.
Eventually, the women said they just started hanging up as soon as they recognized his voice.
One Bucks County prison guard testified that the details the caller knew about her coworkers had her worried he had hacked into the prison’s camera system.
“Is he watching us? I really thought he could see us,” she said.
A case manager at the county prison testified the phone calls became so disruptive she had to stop answering her phone.
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Matthew Villano also took the stand Tuesday, saying he inherited the investigation after the employees complained about the lewd and constant calls. In late January, a trace was set up at Houzdale Correctional Institute and eventually led to a phone registered to one of Gaither’s alias, “James Gunther,” but with Gaither’s real birth date, court records note.
Gaither’s ex-girlfriend also testified that he had harassed her with calls and emails after their relationship ended.
Gaither allegedly sent her letters and tried to call her numerous times when he was incarcerated in Bucks County prison in 2013. She turned in the letters, which included explicit statements involving feet and toes, authorities said.
Gaither also served time in state prisons in Coal Township, Camp Hill and Houtzdale, authorities said. Most recently, Gaither was in Bucks County prison from Feb. 25 to March 3 after he was arrested on burglary and related charges.
Following testimony Tuesday, District Judge Joanne Kline held Gaither for trial on all charges including tampering with records of identification related to the cell phone he bought under an alias. She did reduce the number of counts of stalking and harassment from 27 and 26, respectively, to 16 apiece.
Gaither remains incarcerated in Bucks County prison in lieu of 10 percent of $75,000 bail.