Journal Register News Service

NORRISTOWN -- A judge rejected a Spring City man's claim that he was simply taking part in an educational exercise when he showed two children sexually explicit materials while they were in his company at a Royersford residence.

"Your answer is a convenient way to rationalize your behavior. The court finds it difficult to accept that version of it. It is not education. You did not do anything educational for these children," Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O'Neill scolded Steven Eugene Wrubel on Monday as he sentenced Wrubel to 4-to-23 months in the county jail.

Wrubel, 44, of Riverside Drive, previously pleaded guilty to a felony charge of obscene and other sexual materials and a misdemeanor charge of corruption of minors in connection with a June 2008 incident that involved a girl and a boy who were less than 13 years old.

O'Neill also ordered Wrubel to complete four years' probation after he's paroled from jail and to abide by all sexual treatment recommendations that county probation officials might make for him.

Wrubel, an inventory control manager at a local furniture company, is eligible for the jail's work release program during his incarceration. As conditions of the sentence, Wrubel is prohibited from using the Internet, prohibited from having any contact with the two victims and prohibited from having any contact with anyone under 18 except for his own children.

Addressing the judge, Wrubel claimed in his mind at the time he believed he was providing sexual education to the children.

"I meant no harm. Looking back, I realize I made an error in judgment," Wrubel claimed.

But Assistant District Attorney Jordan Friter, who sought a jail sentence against Wrubel, argued Wrubel tried to lessen the seriousness of his conduct by claiming it was educational. Friter argued Wrubel crossed a line when he was alone with the children and did so without the knowledge of the children's parents. Friter praised the children for having the courage to eventually tell a parent about Wrubel's conduct.

"It was so far past the line of inappropriateness. What happened here took away their innocence and they're never going to get it back," argued Friter, referring to the two children.

Defense lawyer Stephen Baer argued for a probationary sentence for Wrubel, claiming Wrubel had no prior criminal record. Baer, referring to previous psychological evaluations of Wrubel, argued Wrubel is not a risk to re-offend.

The victims' mother and grandmother pleaded with the judge to sentence Wrubel to jail, claiming the children went from being "happy-go-lucky and carefree" to being "withdrawn, untrusting, terrified and sad" after the incident.

"It's a burden that me and the children will always carry with us," the children's mother testified. "(Wrubel) knew what he was doing was wrong."

"Their childhood has been robbed from them. They are scarred for life. Their normal days are gone," the children's grandmother testified, adding Wrubel "crossed the line of decency."

An investigation of Wrubel began in June 2008 when a parent of the children reported Wrubel's alleged conduct to officials of Montgomery County Children and Youth Services, who in turn contacted police.

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