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Two victims, both 80,expect to testify in rape case

Published August 03. 2011 05:02PM

Two 80-year-old women plan to testify against a Slatington man who allegedly tried to rape them.

The women will testify against their alleged attacker, John Anthony Vega on Aug. 23 in a videotaped hearing designed to preserve their testimony in case anything happens to them before the case goes to trial

Lehigh County Chief Deputy District Attorney Matthew Falk requested the hearing in June when Vega announced he wanted to withdraw his guilty plea in Lehigh County to attempted rape and other charges for an alleged November 2008 attack on a then 77-year-old woman. Falk filed a motion to preserve the women's testimony and Judge Robert L. Steinberg granted the request during a brief hearing Monday.

Steinberg said the alleged victims in Carbon and Lehigh can offer testimony and be cross-examined by Vega's attorney, Joseph Malley III.

Vega had a third similar case in Northampton County, but it's been resolved. Falk said if the victims are able to testify when the trial takes place, he'll use their live testimony, not the videotaped versions.

Vega objected to the hearing.

Steinberg said. In a hearing in June, Vega told Steinberg he was confused when he admitted attacking the woman in Lehigh County and claimed he's being "railroaded" by authorities. Vega pleaded guilty in November to aggravated assault, attempted rape and aggravated indecent assault and is facing 15 to 30 years in prison.

Police said Vega attacked the woman around 8 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2008, as she returned home from walking her dog. He threw her face down on her couch, pulled off some of her clothing and was sexually assaulting her but stopped and fled when she said, "This is like raping your mother or grandmother."

Falk said the injuries from the attack forced the woman into the hospital for a week and caused severe medical complications.

In Northampton County, Vega pleaded guilty in April to felony burglary for breaking into a 70-year-old woman's Lehigh Township home in January 2006. Police say he ordered pornography on her TV, wore her slippers and sifted through her belongings, but left before she returned home.

He is serving 18 months to three years in Northampton County Prison. Vega faces the most charges in Carbon County where authorities say he twice threatened to rape a 78-year-old widow at her Lower Towamensing Township home in 2007 and 2008. He was charged with two counts each of attempted rape, burglary and trespassing, three counts of indecent assault and one count of simple assault. Vega has a hearing in that case scheduled next week.

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