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2 held for trial in child sex-assault investigation

| Thursday, May 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Two people accused of sexually assaulting two children in Fayette County were held for trial on Wednesday following preliminary hearings, while a third suspect waived his right to a hearing in exchange for a tentative plea bargain.

South Union District Judge Joseph George Jr. ordered Elmer Plum, 70, of 102 Village of Searights, Menallen; and Dawn Marie Bryner, 35, of Hibbs, held for trial following an hour-long hearing.

Plum is charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and corruption of minors. Bryner is charged with statutory sexual assault and indecent assault.

Joshua Glenn Wolfe, 29, of 234B Second St., New Salem, waived his right to a hearing on charges of aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and corruption of minors in exchange for a tentative plea deal that calls for six to 12 years in jail, according to Assistant District Attorney Linda Cordaro.

In criminal complaints, Trooper Heather Clem said the abuse began in 2003 and continued for eight years at homes in Masontown and Menallen.

A 15-year-old boy testified Plum began to sexually assault him when he was 6 years old by fondling him in his bed. The boy testified Plum sexually assaulted him on a number of occasions at the two residences, with the assaults ending when he turned 11.

When he was 12, the boy testified, Bryner assaulted him as the two sat on a couch, he said.

“I remember just closing my eyes and I didn't want it to happen,” the boy testified, near tears. “I thought if I closed my eyes, it would go away.”

The boy said he could not recall every assault because he wants to forget about them.

“Is it difficult to remember?” Cordaro said.

“I try not to remember them,” the boy testified.

The boy said he told an adult about the assaults approximately five months after the alleged assault by Bryner. He said he did not report them sooner because he feared he would be separated from his siblings.

The Tribune-Review does not identify victims of alleged sexual assaults.

The second witness, a 10-year-old girl, testified in a closed-door proceeding attended only by the judge, Cordaro, Clem and the defendants' attorney, David Kaiser. Cordaro requested the closed-door hearing under the state's “tender years statute” for children under 12.

Barbara Peck, an outpatient therapist with Chestnut Ridge, testified the girl told her in March that Plum sexually assaulted her. “She would cry, and he would tell her not to tell,” Peck testified.

According to the criminal complaints, Plum initiated the assaults at the Masontown residence when he touched the boy inappropriately. The assaults later escalated to rape at a Menallen residence, according to the complaint. The 10-year-old girl was abused at the same location through 2011, police said.

Bryner is accused of sexually assaulting the boy at the Menallen home sometime between 2009 and 2011. Wolfe is accused of sexually assaulting the girl between 2009 and 2011, police allege.

Bryner, who sat handcuffed next to Plum during the hearing, occasionally nodded her head “no” as the boy testified. Both suspects entered not guilty pleas.

Plum, Bryner and Wolfe were remanded to the county prison, where they are being held in lieu of $250,000 bond each.

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

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