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Alleged rape of 2-year-old goes to trial

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

BRACKENRIDGE — A 20-year-old Tarentum man was ordered to stand trial for allegedly raping an infant earlier this month in a Tarentum house.

District Judge Carolyn Bengel also ordered Jacob Knize of Fifth Avenue Apartments sent back to the Allegheny County Jail in lieu of $100,000 cash bond.

He is scheduled to be arraigned in the county sex crimes court on May 24.

Knize entered a not guilty plea Wednesday at his preliminary hearing.

The victim's father testified that on March 11, Knize took the child upstairs to change a diaper -- something that he had done before.

The father said he heard the child screaming and went upstairs to find out what was wrong. The father testified that he caught Knize in the midst of raping the child, who turns 2 in the summer.

"I punched him in the face. And he rolled over," the father said.

Knize got up and "threatened to sue me" and slowly left the house, the father testified.

The authorities later said the child and Knize separately went to hospitals.

Tarentum police picked up Knize at his apartment and questioned him.

Allegheny County Detective Scott Holzwarth testified that Knize was interviewed for about 30 minutes and admitted to sexually assaulting the child.

Assistant Public Defender Jennifer Lee Edmiston "reserved any arguments for trial."

Bengel held to court charges of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, endangering the welfare of a child, and another sex charge.

Edmiston asked Bengel to reduce Knize's bond, but Assistant District Attorney Robert J. Heister Jr. emphatically objected.

Heister called the case is the "most heinous" he had ever encountered in the Bengel's courtroom. He asked Bengel to revoke bond.

"There's no reason for him to be out on the streets," Heister thundered. "He's a danger to the community."

Bengel kept the bond at $100,000 cash. She ordered Knize, if he is released later pending trial, to have no contact with the child.

Knize will give blood samples to be checked for HIV and hepatitis.

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