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Judge rejects sex offender's motion to dismiss Fayette charges

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

A convicted sex offender from Ohio who faces similar allegations in Fayette County lost a bid to get some of the charges dismissed, even though the alleged victims were too afraid to testify against him in court.

Joseph M. Trifiro, 28, of 367 Main St., Lemont Furnace, is charged by Trooper Heather Clem of state police at Uniontown with two counts each of aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault.

Trifiro is accused of inappropriately touching two girls, ages 5 and 7, in September 2011 in a South Union residence.

Trifiro appeared in court on Tuesday for a hearing on a motion filed by his attorney, David Kaiser of Uniontown. Kaiser wanted the aggravated indecent assault charges dismissed before trial.

Both girls were at the courthouse for the hearing. At the request of Assistant District Attorney Linda Cordaro, Judge Steve Leskinen ordered that they did not have to testify under the state's tender years statute for children younger than 12.

Leskinen issued the order after the girls' caretaker testified that the 5-year-old wet her pants when she saw Trifiro in the hallway outside the courtroom, and Clem said both girls were too nervous to testify during a March preliminary hearing on the charges.

In lieu of the alleged victims' testimony, Leskinen heard from Clem, who testified that the girls reported in two interviews that Trifiro had touched them inappropriately.

Trifiro, who according to court records was convicted in 2010 in Ohio of gross sexual imposition for an incident involving an 8-year-old child, is in the Fayette County Prison in lieu of at least $75,000 bail.

In addition to the sex assault charges, Trifiro faces trial in unrelated cases for allegedly selling heroin to a confidential police informant in South Union and failing to register as a sex offender when he moved from Ohio to Pennsylvania after his conviction there.

Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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