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Verdicts reached in criminal trials

Published March 08. 2013 05:03PM

Verdicts were reached Thursday in Carbon County court in two criminal trials that began on Wednesday.

A Lehighton man was found guilty of counts of indecent assault while a Jim Thorpe resident was found not guilty of charges stemming from an incident at a graduation ceremony.

Indecent assault

Joseph John Kulp III, 40, was found guilty of four counts of indecent assault and two counts of harassment, as summary offenses.

Kulp was arrested by Lehighton police for grabbing the behind of a then 14-year-old on two separate occasions.

He was charged for an incident on July 20, 2010, and for the second sometime between May and August, 2011.

Kulp was not arrested until two years after the first incident. The first incident occurred while the girl was leaving a church in Lehighton. The second incident occurred along a street not far from the church. In both instances the girl told the youth pastor of the church about the incident but he apparently did not report it to anyone.

The girl told prosecutors that Kulp approached her inside the church at a youth group meeting and told her that her behind "looked good". He made the same remark just prior to the second grabbing incident, the girl said.

Kulp admitted making the remark but denied ever touching the girl.

Kulp was found guilty of two counts each of indecent assault without consent of the other, and indecent assault of a person less that the age of 16. Presiding Judge Steven R. Serfass found him guilty of two counts summary counts of harassment.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Michael S. Greek. Public Defender Paul Levy represented Kulp.

Serfass deferred sentencing to a later date and allowed Kulp to remain free on bail.

School incident

Christopher R. Mazella, 25, of was found not guilty of one count each of persistent disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II found him not guilty of a summary count of disorderly conduct.

Mazella was arrested for an incident at the Jim Thorpe High School graduation in 2011. Mazella was accused of disrupting the ceremonies when he used an air horn.

Mazella was arrested by Jim Thorpe police officer Lee Marzen, who was on duty at the graduation.

Marzen testified there was an announcement made that there should be no clapping or noise during the commencement. He said Mazella was standing up and using the air horn.

Defense Attorney Brian Collins said police should have seized the air horn and that would have ended the incident. But police chose to remove Mazella from the ceremonies. He also denied that Mazella, whose brother was among the graduating class, resisted arrest.

Testimony was heard from school administrators and others for the prosecution. Collins called several people who were at the graduation and denied Mazella resisted arrest or disrupted the commencement.

It took the jury about 30 minutes to reach its verdict.

Assistant District Attorney Jean A. Engler prosecuted the case.

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