UPPER DUBLIN >> A Phoenixville man accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old Upper Dublin girl was held over for trial on rape and related charges following a preliminary hearing.
George P. Waghorn, 40, of the unit block of Nutt Road, was arrested Nov. 1 and charged with rape, three counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a minor, unlawful contact with a minor, statutory sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, sexual abuse of children involving photographs, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors, indecent assault, and related offenses.
District Judge Patricia Zaffarano upheld all the charges on Nov. 16 and declined to reduce bail, which she originally set at $500,000.
Upper Dublin Detective Michael Scarpato testified at the hearing about statements the girl made during an Oct. 2 forensic interview at Mission Kids. The girl’s mother had called police Sept. 28 to report that her daughter had been sexually assaulted.
According to Scarpato’s testimony and the affidavit, the girl said she began an online conversation with an unknown male, who claimed to be in the 25-30 age range, in April on Whisper, an anonymous social networking app, claiming she was age 15-17. At some point, the male suggested they switch over to the KIK app, and the conversations became sexual in nature.
The male asked for naked photos of the victim, who sent him 10 photos, and he sent her a sexually explicit photo. The girl said “she had communications online about her age and that she would be starting high school,” Scarpato testified.
The victim reported meeting the male, who provided her with marijuana, on three occasions between April and August, he said. The sexual assaults occurred during the last two meetings, which occurred late at night in a wooded area, before the girl reported the incidents to the police.
It was during the third meeting, when the two performed oral sex on each other and smoked marijuana that the male had intercourse with the girl, who said “she asked for him to stop,” but he didn’t, Scarpato testified.
After the incidents were reported to the police, the victim arranged to meet the male, later identified as Waghorn, at a park on Nov. 1, where he was taken into custody.
Scarpato also read from an interview with Waghorn in which he said he “honestly” didn’t know how old the girl was, as she “kept changing her age,” saying she was 17, 16 and 14 on different occasions. Though at first he said he had just provided marijuana to the girl, he later admitted the two had sexual contact, though he denied raping the girl.
Under cross-examination by Waghorn’s attorney, Brendan Campbell, Scarpato said he had not read any of the texts between the two, nor seen the photos the girl sent.
Campbell argued that the testimony was hearsay and that the girl, though “not the age of consent,” continued to have contact with Waghorn. He also argued that the testimony did not support the “forcible compulsion” charge.
“The fact that they had prior contact has nothing to do with him raping her that day,” Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Lauren Marvel said. “That she said no and he pushed her legs back, that’s force. He committed statutory sexual assault.”
Campbell also asked that bail be reduced to $99,000 to allow Waghorn, who has been in the United States for 17 years and is a legal permanent resident, more freedoms at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. Marvel opposed the reduction, stating there was “no reason to believe he’s not a flight risk,” as he is originally from Guatemala and previously lived in Virginia, and “has prior connections out of state and outside the country.”
Zaffarano said she was holding all the charges for trial and declined lowering the bail, noting Waghorn told her at his arraignment that “he has no family here.”
Formal arraignment at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown is scheduled for Jan. 3.