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Westmoreland

Sex offender seeks waiver of Megan's Law reporting requirement

Rich Cholodofsky
| Monday, April 16, 2018, 5:45 p.m.

A former Penn Township carnival worker serving a 30-year prison sentence for molesting two children in the 1990s appeared in court Monday seeking to have a judge waive the requirement that he register his whereabouts with police if he is ever released from custody.

Joseph Busija, 87, was convicted in 1997 of counts of rape, sexual assault, child endangerment and other offenses in connection with allegations that he harbored children from Florida and Jeannette as sex slaves.

“He's never had to report since he's been in prison all this time,” Assistant District Attorney Barbara Jollie said.

During a two-day trial in 1997, two men testified they met Busija at carnivals where he worked. They claimed they were initially happy to be in Busija's care but that sexual abuse started in a matter of months.

One youth lived with Busija for nearly nine years after meeting him in Florida in 1984. His mother had turned over custody of him to Busija when he was just 11, he said. That victim testified he was only able to escape after Canadian authorities refused to allow Busija to enter the country with a pet potbellied pig. The victim claimed he fled from Busija after he was sent back to Penn Township with the pig.

The other victim, formerly of Jeannette, lived with Busija for nine months and claimed he was repeatedly molested.

Busija was also arrested in 1996 on a lesser charge of child endangerment while caring for a 7-year-old Ohio boy. He received a probation term after pleading guilty to charges in that case.

Authorities found the young boy sleeping on a urine-soaked couch near a 400-pound pig. Busija claimed to have secured custody of child from a woman while working at a carnival in Windber, Somerset County.

Busija was sentenced in 1997 to serve 15 to 30 years in prison.

Jollie said because Megan's Law reporting requirements in place at the time of Busija's sentencing were declared unconstitutional in 1999, and a new replacement law later enacted, he may not be subject to registering his whereabouts if he's ever released.

Busija has been in prison since his arrest 22 years ago and has been denied parole at least one time, Jollie said.

Jollie said she has to research if Busija must comply with the latest version of Megan's Law, which would require his lifetime registration as a sex offender.

Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Judge Tim Krieger said he will issue a ruling in the case after another hearing on the issue next month.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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