Sexual assault charges
A father and daughter charged with the sexual assault of a female family member are headed to Carbon County Court.
Michael Steven Taschler, 79, of Covered Bridge Road, Kunkletown, and Debbie Lynn Green, 39, of Avenue A, Palmerton, appeared for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday before District Judge Bruce Appleton of Palmerton.
Appleton dropped three charges against Taschler, and four charges against Green.
Taschler still faces six counts of aggravated indecent assault, four counts of indecent assault, two counts of criminal conspiracy, indecent assault, two counts of criminal conspiracy, aggravated indecent assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. Green faces charges for endangering the welfare of a child and making terroristic threats.
Both Taschler and Green will appear before the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas at 9 a.m. April 21. Both individuals remain free in lieu of $200,000 unsecured bail.
As part of their release conditions, the defendants were to attend a pretrial intervention program through the Carbon County Adult Probation Office and follow all recommendations; are not to possess or consume alcohol or nonprescribed controlled substances; are to be fingerprinted before their preliminary hearing and must call State Police at Lehighton to schedule an appointment; and are not to have any unsupervised contact with the victim.
The victim, now 16, testified that her grandfather first began to sexually assault her when she was 9 years old and in the third grade.
She said the incident occurred after her mother dropped her off at her grandparents' house.
"My grandfather was standing on the porch with me and my grandma as my mom was leaving to go," she said. "I was crying because she was leaving me there."
After her grandmother went inside the house with her brother and sister, the victim said her grandfather put his hand down her underwear and touched her.
The victim said she was trying to say "stop, but all that could come out was a squeal."
"He told me not to tell anyone," she said. "All I did was cry some more and walk away."
The victim said the sexual assault continued when her grandfather took her, her brother and sister swimming in the creek behind his house.
The victim said she told "some of my very close friends; I didn't tell an adult right away."
"In third grade, I told my mom that my grandfather touched me and described what he was doing to me and she started yelling at me and was angry and said 'you better not tell anyone', and that 'bad things are going to happen and I'd never see my grandmother again," she said. "I told her [again] in eighth grade, and she said I was just imagining it, and that if I told anybody else, she would beat me and anybody else with a baseball bat."
After she told her mom, the victim said she told a few of her friends. Her father eventually found out, and visited her to talk about the situation, the victim said.
The victim said the last time she was with her grandfather was when her mom went on vacation sometime before this school year.
The victim said the last incident occurred when her grandfather came to her mother's house to check in on her and her siblings.
"Before he would always leave, he gave us hugs," she said. "Before he left, he tried to kiss me and grab my butt."
State Trooper Patrick J. Finn was called as the next witness.
Finn said he interviewed Taschler, who denied the allegations against him.
As Taschler began to leave the police station, Finn said Green was in the doorway and asked 'what is going on', when Taschler said to Green "I sexually assaulted (the victim) her."
"She walked into the door and said '"if my daughter ever told me that, I don't remember that'", Finn said. "I observed zero surprise, zero shock; it was as if I just told her (the victim) fell off a bike."
According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Finn:
On Oct. 14, Finn and Amy Chickilly, of Carbon County Children and Youth, spoke to the minor victim who advised that Taschler began to sexually assault her when she was 9 years old, according to the affidavit.
The victim said that the sexual assaults usually occurred at her grandfather's residence.
The victim said that she had told Green several times since she was 9 that Taschler was sexually assaulting her, and that each time she went to her for help, Green would threaten to kill her. On one occasion, Green held a baseball bat over the victim's head and told her that she would beat her to death with the bat if she ever told anyone about the sexual assaults.
Green continually forced the victim to stay at Taschler's residence for overnight visits with full knowledge that the victim would be sexually assaulted while in Taschler's presence. At no time did Green prevent the victim from being in Taschler's company, and at no time did Green prevent her from being sexually assaulted by Taschler.
Green never reported the assaults to the authorities after the victim repeatedly went to her for help.
The incidents occurred from about Jan. 2004 until June 2008.