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Lehighton man to stand trial on indecent assault charges

Published August 16. 2012 05:01PM

On two separate occasions in Lehighton in 2010, a then 14-year-old girl allegedly was grabbed on the behind by a 38-year-old man - once while leaving church. In both cases, she told her youth pastor. He apparently never reported the incidents to police.

Two years later, the man has finally been arrested.

Yesterday, the individual accused of the assaults faced a hearing on the charges.

Joseph John Kulp, 40, of Lehighton, was ordered to stand trial in Carbon County Court on four counts of indecent assault. Three harassment charges that were filed against him were dismissed.

The charges against the defendant weren't filed until June 29 of this year after a neighbor allegedly saw Kulp parked across the street from the young girl's house. It was then that the girl told her parents about the earlier incidents, who reported them to police.

The hearing was held before District Judge Edward Lewis of Jim Thorpe. Lewis placed bail at $20,000 unsecured on each count.

Testimony during the hearing revealed that in one instance in 2010, the teenage girl was outside the church in Lehighton, waiting for the van to take her home after services, when Kulp, who also attended the church, allegedly grabbed her behind and made an inappropriate comment.

She said she told the youth pastor, who said he would tell the pastor.

Then another time, she was walking home from a friend's funeral when the same man stopped his car, approached her, and again allegedly grabbed her. It happened on a sidewalk in Lehighton while she was en route to another friend's house, she said.

Regarding the incident which occurred at the church, the girl said Kulp appeared drunk at the time. However, he didn't appear to be drunk when he approached her on the sidewalk.

During both incidents, she was with other friends, she testified.

When the public defender asked her about her reaction outside the church when she was grabbed, she responded, "I was just shocked. I didn't know what to do so I just went and told my youth pastor."

Asked why she didn't report Kulp to the police when it happened, she said, "I thought the people in my church would take care of this."

Also testifying was Trooper Briane Silliman, the arresting police officer who is stationed at the Lehighton barracks of the state police.

Silliman's time on the witness stand was brief, stating he spoke with the youth pastor and the minister of the church.

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