The findings of a community cleanup in Walker Township in April and in-depth investigation by local and state police resulted in a Tamaqua man being charged with raping a young girl and sexually abusing another, ages 4 and 5 at the time, in the Summer of 2001.
Robert Lee Raeder Jr. of 107 Gay Street, was arraigned yesterday before Magisterial District Judge Stephen J. Bayer, Tamaqua, on two counts of aggravated indecent assault, child pornography, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors and indecent assault of a minor and one count of rape of a child, and indecent exposure. Raeder Jr., 44, is currently locked up in the Schuylkill County Prison, Pottsville, after being unable able to post the required $100,000 straight cash bail set by Bayer.
In a press release, state police at the Frackville barracks said the charges were filed based on an extensive investigation. They added that the assaults took place at multiple locations in the Tamaqua Borough.
Police added that, on April 29 of this year, a community cleanup along Valley Road uncovered 53 Polaroid photos depicting child nudity and sexual assault.
State police Trooper Edward Lizewski said the state police Computer Crimes Unit was contacted and Trooper Michael Gownley converted the images into digital format and submitted them to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Lizewski added that no information was obtained through that agency and a flier was later distributed to area pediatricians. That also didn't come back with any useful information.
Then, on Oct. 23, a Request for Identification was provided to local media outlets.
Only two days later, on Oct. 25, the biological parents of one of the girls in the photographs contacted police. After being interviewed separately, the family confirmed the child was their daughter. They added that their daughter was between 3 and 5 years old at the time of the photos. They were also able to identify objects in the background of the photos.
Continuing with the investigation, police learned that during the summer of 2001, the child's mother had a close relationship with Raeder. She added that Raeder would sometimes watch her daughter, along with his daughter, while she went to work. Police added that the mother was also able to identify a second girl in the pictures that was also known to Raeder.
On Thursday, Raeder was interviewed by State Police at their Frackville station. Police said that when Raeder was told what the interview was about, he began to cry, saying, "OK, you got me. It was me. I took the photos. I'm sick and I never meant to hurt anyone." Raeder also provided details to police officers pertaining to photographing the girls, the sexual acts committed and the disposal of the photographs.
No date has been set for Raeder's preliminary hearing.