App leads to sex assault charges
Brad Daniel Murphy, 26, of Tamaqua, was arraigned on Thursday on charges related to the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old Tamaqua boy. He was led to court by Tamaqua patrolmen Ray Tonkinson and Anthony Stanell. KATHY KUNKEL/TIMES NEWS
Matthew Delgado, 28, of Tamaqua and formerly of the Bronx, New York, is led to his arraignment by Tamaqua Patrolman Anthony Stanell. Delgado was one of three men arraigned on sexual abuse charges on Thursday. KATHY KUNKEL/TIMES NEWS
Charles Raymond Joy, 59, vice president of Port Carbon Borough Council, shields his face as he’s led to an arraignment on charges related to the sexual abuse of a minor.
When Tamaqua Police Cpl. Thomas Rodgers began an investigation into alleged sex crimes involving a 13-year-old Tamaqua boy and a former music teacher at Nativity B.V.M. High School, he was “clueless about the online dating app Grindr.”
Since he interviewed the teen victim on Feb. 23, he’s had a crash course in the cellphone app, thanks to the victim’s report of having had sex with more than just music teacher Dale Schimpf of Frackville.
What happened next “is a cautionary tale for parents and Grindr users alike,” says Rodgers, who filed charges on Thursday against three additional men accused of having sex with the original victim.
The three new suspects are Charles Raymond Joy, 59, of Port Carbon; Brad Daniel Murphy, 26, of Tamaqua; and Matthew Delgado, 28, of Tamaqua. All three are charged with felony counts of statutory sexual assault of a victim between the ages of 11 and 16 and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse of someone less than 16; along with misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure, corruption of minors and indecent assault of a person less than 16.
Rodgers said once the victim admitted having sex with more than one adult man, “I created a fake profile on Grindr, similar to that of the victim. I checked the other profile names the victim gave me and from there I was able to confirm their real identities.”
All three men are alleged to have had the victim perform oral sex on them between the fall of 2018 and February 2019.
Joy, who serves as the vice president of Port Carbon Borough Council, used the screen name “Top.” Delgado used the screen name “catchanut” and Murphy billed himself as “Bear.”
The men were arraigned before District Magisterial Judge Stephen Bayer, who set bail at $50,000 straight cash bond for each defendant. The judge explained that “bail is not meant as a punishment. It is to ensure that you appear for all future hearings.”
He explained the need for a high bail as he has to take three things into consideration. Is the defendant a flight risk, a danger to himself or a danger to the community?
“Due to the serious nature of these charges, I have to consider the answer in these cases to be yes to all three questions” said Bayer. “These charges carry a certain stigma. They are very high profile and the public’s perception could easily trigger a person’s flight instinct. It’s also easy to consider that someone could go to a deep, dark place and harm themselves. But, most of all, these charges definitely lend themselves to a defendant being a risk to the community.”
Judge Bayer also told the accused they would be barred from any contact with minors, which includes Joy’s two grandchildren and Delgado’s two children.
All three men were committed to the Schuylkill County Prison in Pottsville. Preliminary hearings are currently set for April 16.
Tamaqua Police Chief Henry Woods hopes the cases will serve as a warning to parents.
“The victim’s parents had no idea he was using this app or meeting up with strangers. In this day and age of technology, kids always have their attention focused on their phones. Parents should keep in mind that even the most innocent of apps could be used by twisted people. Be aware of what apps your child has downloaded and which ones they are using. Don’t just rely on parental controls build into technology. Stay on top of what they are doing and who they are seeing. Once these men actually met this victim, it was pretty clear he was a minor. The smart thing for them to do would have been to run as fast as they could the other way and contact police about the fake profile.”
Cpl. Rodgers says people who legitimately use dating apps should also be wary.
“Not everyone is truthful about the profile they create. Just because someone says they are an adult, that doesn’t mean it’s true. Be smart, not sorry.”