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Tiona man faces more charges in rape case

A man accused of multiple counts of rape and repeated sexual abuse of a boy who was between the ages of 11 and 14 faces additional charges.

Kelly E. Patz, 48, of Tiona, faces two counts of rape — person less than 13 years old; four counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse — person less than 13; contact with a minor — sexual offenses; four counts of statutory sexual assault; two counts of sexual assault; three counts of indecent assault — person less than 13 years old; corruption of minors; and endangering the welfare of children.

At a preliminary hearing in September, two counts of aggravated indecent assault were dismissed.

On Friday, Deputy Attorney General Alicia Werner argued before Judge Gregory Hammond that those charges should be added back to the docket.

Hammond said he would essentially treat a portion of Friday’s hearing as a preliminary hearing. Typically, a district magistrate would, at a preliminary hearing, determine if there was enough evidence presented that it is likely that the listed crimes were committed and that the defendant is likely to have committed them.

The alleged victim in the case testified, alleging details of repeated sexual abuse at the hands of Patz. In particular, he provided details of specific sexual acts that align with the language in the criminal code pertaining to aggravated sexual assault.

He said the alleged acts took place at least 10 times — “it could have been a hundred” — starting when he was 11 years old.

He explained that he did not give those particular details during the preliminary hearing because he was unclear what was being asked of him at that time and that he had provided those details to police in the past.

Following the testimony by the alleged victim, including cross-examination by Patz’ attorney, Eric Hackwelder, Hammond granted the motion to add the two counts of aggravated indecent assault to the charges against Patz.

Werner also asked the court to allow her to call a witness at trial who would detail “prior bad acts.”

The witness would testify to his experience, which was, according to Werner, very much like those of the alleged victim who testified on Friday.

“John Doe #2’s experience — timeline, age, locations… they’re all similar,” Werner said.

To satisfy the requirements for prior bad acts testimony, it would have to establish a “common plan, scheme, or design,” Hammond said. “The degree of similarity is striking… it’s not identical.”

Hackwelder asked that the witness not be allowed to testify, suggesting that such testimony could prejudice a jury against his client. “The potential for prejudice in this case outweigh any evidentiary probative value that the commonwealth may have,” he said. A jury “may punish the defendant for crimes other than those he’s on trial for.”

In that case, Patz entered a guilty plea to indecent exposure, but the original charges were similar to those he faces now, Hackwelder said. “If there were merit to the charges in 2012, he would have either gone to trial or pled to similar charges.”

“Bad acts has to do with conduct, not convictions…” Hammond said. The plea is not a limiting factor in that way. Prior allegations — even if they do not result in charges — are allowable under bad acts.

He granted the motion to allow the prior bad acts testimony. “I will give the appropriate cautionary limiting introduction” to the jury, he said.

At both attorneys’ request, Hammond tentatively set Patz’ trial for the April trial term.

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