A Jim Thorpe man who allegedly molested two little girls over a two-year span will face Carbon County Court on charges of indecent assault on a child under age 13, and corruption of minors.
District Judge Edward Lewis of Jim Thorpe sent the charges against Frederick J. Baker, 26, of 602 Center Ave., to court following about an hour of testimony Wednesday. Baker remains free on $100,000 recognizance bail, meaning he did not have to post cash. He was ordered to have no contact with the victims.
Lewis closed the preliminary hearing to the public because of the girls' ages.
Baker was represented at the hearing by David Skutnik. Carbon County Assistant District Attorney Sarah Modrick is prosecuting the case.
The assaults allegedly took place between July 2011 and July 2013.
According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Lehighton Det. Scott S. Prebosnyak, the matter surfaced on June 23 when Sgt. Joseph Lawrence received a call about an indecent assault against the girls, who are under age 9.
Prebosnyak received the case two days later, and began his investigation by speaking with the girls' father. The father told him that the girls had returned home from a visitation with their mother, and began to teach his young son a "game" named after a slang term for a female body part.
The father said he told the girls to "stop talking like that." A few days later, his wife overheard the girls use the term again, and then she talked with the girls about the "game."
The girls told her that Baker, a frequent visitor to their mother's home, had taught them the game. They said he would put his hands under their shirts and squeeze their private areas and buttocks.
Prebosnyak wrote in the affidavit that he received ChildLine reports concerning the alleged assaults, and also received a report from the Carbon County Children and Youth Services Agency.
On July 5, Prebosnyak arranged for the girls to be interviewed at the Children's Advocacy Center in Scranton, Lackawanna County.
Both described how Baker had allegedly touched them, and that he would laugh and continue when they told him his touching was painful.
The girls said he would only stop if someone was coming into the room. They also said the "game" had been going on for "a long time," both inside and outside the home.
"This detective and the interviewer at the advocacy center did find their interviews to be very credible," Prebosnyak wrote.
On July 8, Prebosnyak went to Baker's house and asked him to come to the police station to talk with him.
"The defendant immediately advised me that he could not speak to me without his attorney present," Prebosnyak wrote.
The detective told him to have his lawyer contact him. Prebosnyak wrote that Skutnik called him "before I even got back to my office," and scheduled an interview for the following day.
Baker was read his Miranda rights and spoke with Prebosnyak in the presence of Skutnik. Baker admitted knowing the victims, and to playing with them.
"He said they all got along well, but stated that he never touched them inappropriately. He stated he did not know why the victims would lie and accuse him of this," Prebosnyak wrote.
He wrote that Baker blamed the situation on the girls' father.
Baker became "visibly upset when confronted about his past arrest," Prebosnyak wrote.
"The defendant showed many indicators that he was lying in the interview, and his body language also showed he was deceptive," Prebosnyak wrote.
The detective noted that Baker was asked to take a polygraph (lie detector) test, "and he did not answer, but looked to his attorney. He advised he would need to consider such. Charges were subsequently filed, as I never heard back from the defendant's attorney," Prebosnyak wrote.
The past arrest Prebosnyak referred to in the affidavit concerns Baker's confession to molesting a 6-year-old boy in 2005.
In that case, Baker on Nov. 7, 2006 pleaded guilty to indecent assault and corruption of minors. Carbon County President Judge Roger Nanovic sentenced him to two years' probation, and to get a sexual offender's evaluation and follow the resulting recommendations.
Jim Thorpe police had arrested Baker in November 2005, charging him with 12 counts of indecent assault and four counts of corruption of minors after a neighbor reported seeing inappropriate contact between Baker and the boy.
The boy told police about the incidents, and Baker admitted to the crimes.