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Dayton man acquitted in child molestation

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Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

KITTANNING – A Dayton man accused of molesting an 8-year-old child in 2007 was acquitted Wednesday in a jury trial before Judge James J. Panchik.

Michael Paul Shaffer, 34, was found not guilty on misdemeanor charges of indecent assault of a person less than 13 years of age and of endangering the welfare of a child, according to court records.

The jury arrived at the verdict in less than an hour after having heard victim and police testimony, a court official said on Thursday.

Shaffer was acquitted of all charges stemming from accusations reported last October, five years after the incident allegedly took place.

According to court documents, those accusations alleged Shaffer inappropriately touched a child during an overnight stay at his house. During the investigation, Shaffer had acknowledged that his daughter had been friends with the alleged victim but denied any indecent contact.

Shaffer is charged in a separate case alleging sex crimes with another juvenile and is scheduled to stand trial in October.

According to that criminal complaint in a 2010 case, Shaffer allegedly began a sexual relationship with the 15-year-old daughter of a neighbor's girlfriend. Shaffer and the girl reportedly engaged in consensual sex at multiple locations.

The Leader Times does not identify juvenile crime victims.

The girl's mother told police during an investigation that Shaffer had slept in the same bed with her daughter on several occasions and that the girl eventually moved in with him, the complaint alleges. It also alleges that Shaffer admitted to police that he had shared a bed with the girl, but denied any sexual relationship.

He will stand trial in that case on charges of corruption of minors (a felony) and misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of children and indecent assault of a person less than 16 years of age.

Assistant District Attorney Cindy Calarie — the prosecutor in Wednesday's trial — and Shaffer's defense attorney, Linda L. Ziembicki, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303.

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