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Indecent assault charges dropped against Palmerton man

Published August 10. 2011 05:01PM

Charges have been dropped against a Palmerton man accused of improperly touching a girl.

Franklin R. Berger, 38, of 1045 Mauch Chunk Road, was found not guilty of two counts of indecent assault and one count of corruption of minors at a preliminary hearing before District Judge Bruce Appleton of Palmerton on Tuesday.

The case included testimony from the alleged victim, now 23, who said Berger was married to her aunt at the time she claimed he had molested her.

The alleged victim said Berger touched her chest, bottom, and private area as she laid on the couch one morning when she was 12.

She said she pretended to be asleep at the time because she was scared. Her aunt, Berger's wife, was also in the house at the time, she said.

When asked by defense attorney George Dydynsky how she could know whose hands had allegedly touched her, the alleged victim said she could tell "they were big hands, rough hands; definitely not a woman's hands."

After the alleged victim's testimony, Dydynsky asked that all the charges against Berger be dismissed.

The prosecution argued that a prima facie case had been established against Berger, that the alleged victim was able to identify him; that there were only two other people in the house at the time of the alleged incident; and that the hands belonged to that of a man.

At that, Appleton make his ruling to have the charges against Berger dismissed.

According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by Palmerton Borough Police Chief Randy Smith:

On Oct. 15, 2010, Smith received a report from Carbon County Children & Youth reporting a sexual abuse/exploitation of a female when she was between the ages of 11-13 years ago, according to the affidavit.

Carbon County Children & Youth received this information from a case worker from Northampton County Children & Youth, the affidavit says.

Smith spoke with the case worker from Northampton County Children & Youth, and he advised when the location of the incident was learned, he immediately transferred the report to Carbon County Children & Youth.

The Northampton County Children & Youth report indicates that the victim reported that when she was between the ages of 11-13,, Berger, put his hand under her clothing one time. She could not remember the exact date. The victim also reported that Berger fondled her chest and her private area.

On Oct. 19, Smith interviewed the victim, who reported that the incident occurred at 761 Edgemont Ave. The victim reported that she was lying on the couch with her face toward the back of the couch. She claims that Berger must have thought she was sleeping and came up from behind her and put his hand down the back of her pants, put his hand up her shirt and fondled her chest, and put his hand down the front of her pants..

The victim reported this continued for about 10 minutes, and stopped when Berger heard a noise. The victim also reported that he would ask her questions about her sexual activity, and would give her details about his sex life with her aunt.

Smith asked the victim why she waited so long to report this incident, and the victim claims that she always remembered it, and carried it with her. She recently has been going to counseling, and needed to do a life line, and she revealed this incident to the counselor, who advised her that by law, he had to report this.

On Nov. 18, 2010, Smith interviewed Berger, and advised him of his Miranda Rights, which he stated he understood and signed the waiver form and agreed to answer questions.

Berger denied the allegations made by the victim against him, and denied ever touching her.

Berger also denied asking the victim about her sexual activity, or telling her about his sex life with his wife.

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