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Dayton man to stand trial on sexual assault charges

| Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Dayton man is headed to criminal court on charges of statutory sexual assault, indecent assault, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children stemming from two separate incidents that allegedly occurred in and around Rural Valley during the past five years.

Michael P. Shaffer, 33, is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl for several months in 2010 and also of molesting an 8-year-old girl in 2007. The Leader Times does not identify juveniles who are the victim of a crime.

Judge Samuel Goldstrohm said witnesses for both sides testified during a preliminary hearing on Monday morning.

“Both victims testified and gave great detail in the accusations,” said Goldstrohm. “(Defense attorney Linda Ziebicki) also called some family members and friends (of Shaffer) to testify on behalf of the defense.”

In early October, the victim of the first incident—who was reportedly friends with Shaffer's daughter—told state police that Shaffer touched her inappropriately five years earlier when she slept over at Shaffer's home in Rural Valley. Shaffer's ex-wife confirmed to police that the victim was on a cheerleading squad with Shaffer's daughter and that the girl had spent at least one night at the house.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim said she was told when she stayed at Shaffer's to sleep in a room by herself. She claims Shaffer entered the room in the middle of the night and assaulted her before instructing her not to tell anyone what had occurred.

When police interviewed Shaffer in October, he admitted that his daughter had been friends with the victim and that it's possible she had slept at his house four or five years prior, although he denied any indecent contact.

In 2010, Shaffer allegedly began a sexual relationship with the 15-year-old daughter of his neighbor's girlfriend. Shaffer and the girl reportedly engaged in consensual sex at multiple locations including the Cowanshannock home of the girl's family and Shaffer's house, where the girl moved that November.The girl's mother told police last fall that Shaffer had slept in the same bed with her daughter on several occasions and that the girl eventually moved in with him.

Shaffer admitted to police that he had shared a bed with the girl but denied any sexual relationship.

He was placed in Armstrong County Jail last Tuesday and released on $25,000 bond.

The case will now move on to the Armstrong County Courts.

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or tkaran@tribweb.com.

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