Meadville man is declared sexual predator

A local man who attempted to lure three girls into his van in Meadville on three separate occasions was declared a sexually violent predator under the state’s Megan’s Law on Friday.

The ruling followed a 50-minute hearing before Crawford County Court of Common Pleas Judge Anthony Vardaro.

Joseph Leone, 26, of Meadville, pleaded guilty to three counts of attempt to lure children into a motor vehicle, one count of terroristic threats and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

He faces up to 12 years in prison and $25,000 in fines when he is sentenced next Friday. As a sexually violent predator, he will be required to register his whereabouts with police for the rest of his life once he is released from prison.

Sexually violent predator guidelines are part of the state’s Megan Law and requires an assessment by a state board to determine whether the offender meets specific criteria.

Molly Marie Wagner, a licensed clinic social worker and member of the state sex offender assessment board, presented testimony that in her opinion Leone met that criteria.

Although assessments are usually done after personal interviews with defendants, Leone “enacted his Fifth Amendment rights” and declined to be interviewed, said Wagner.

She reviewed Leone’s history, combined with characteristics indicating a disorder. She also reviewed police and probation office reports in making her determination.

Leone pleaded guilty to attempting to lure: a 16-year-old into his vehicle on Sept. 6, 2006, on North Street; a 12-year-old girl into his van on Nov. 6, 2006, on North Street; and a 15-year-old into his van on Jan. 7, 2007, on North Main Street south of Allegheny College.

All of the girls ran away and weren’t harmed.

Wagner testified the cases were similar in that they all involved adolescent females who were strangers to Leone. She said there was an element of violence in the fact that when police searched his van it had the middle seat removed, rope with a slip knot, latex gloves and tape.

That was indicative that Leone would try to quickly tie up the victims, she said.

She also testified of other incidents in Erie County involving a woman whom he offered a ride to work and then attempted to assault. Leone also failed to complete required counseling and treatment.

Published in: on December 7, 2007 at 5:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

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