Greene Co. child welfare official accused of raping child in his care
By Mike Wereschagin
Published: Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, 3:03 p.m.
State police say John Robert Lohr was calm as he confessed to his wife of 38 years that he molested one of their four foster children for four years.
Lohr, 56, vice chairman of the board that oversees the Greene County Children and Youth Services agency that placed the children with the couple, asked his wife to wait an hour before calling police. When he drove away from their Carmichaels home in the family's van, she called police immediately, according to a criminal complaint.
Two weeks later, Lohr, an unemployed caretaker who used to work in a home for the mentally disabled, awaits extradition to Pennsylvania from a West Virginia jail cell. State police expect a hearing to take place on Sept. 9.
Police charged Lohr with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, corruption of minors and indecent assault.
Police said that Lohr sometimes held a knife to the child's throat and, if the boy resisted, threw things at him and threatened to kill him and his siblings if he told anyone.
“I was shocked because, apparently, he'd been on the board for some time now,” said Greene County Commissioner Chuck Morris, a nonmember representative on the CYS board.
Morris said he joined the board only recently and doesn't know Lohr well. “I know it certainly shocked the people over at Human Services,” which runs the program.
The program placed four children with the Lohrs 10 years ago, police said. One boy reported the abuse started shortly before Halloween four years ago and included more than 100 instances of oral sex.
Police did not identify the victim, and the Tribune-Review does not identify victims of sexual assault.
Lohr's fellow board members declined to comment or did not return calls. The 12-member volunteer board includes educators, a retired pastor, a foster parent and a state trooper, among others. It is not involved in placing foster children with families, Morris said.
“They did the Child Line check. They did the criminal background check. If he comes up clean, what basis do you have” for not placing children with him, Morris said.
Debra Lohr told police she learned of the accusation during a recent family vacation to Maine, where one of the couple's three adult children lives. She and the son they visited talked with the boy after overhearing him say something suspicious, police said.
When the family returned to Carmichaels, she sent the children to a relative's home and confronted Lohr, police said. He confessed but told her he had not molested other children and instead “would go to public bathrooms and have encounters with other men,” the complaint states.
Debra Lohr told police she believed her husband intended to kill himself when he left. Park rangers found him unconscious the next day in Ohiopyle State Park. A tube fed carbon monoxide from the tailpipe into the van, state Trooper Curt Brown said.
Medics airlifted Lohr to a Pittsburgh hospital, where he recovered in intensive care for several days. He was taken to Fairmont General Hospital in Fairmont, W.Va., because his wife works in that state, Brown said. Fairmont police arrested him at the hospital and took him to North Central Regional Jail in Greenwood, W.Va.
The children were placed with another family, Brown said.
Mike Wereschagin is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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