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Indiana County dad held for trial for sending kids out of house

| Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, 10:45 p.m.

A former Washington Township man had been drinking when he told his three children to go outside barefoot and look for seashells, the man's 14-year-old son testified on Monday.

“We weren't quite sure what to do,” the teenager testified during a preliminary hearing for Charles Alan Seibel, 36, now of Young, Indiana County. “We didn't know if he was going to be mad at us if we went back in.”

District Judge Jason Buczak ordered Seibel to stand trial on three counts of endangering the welfare of children and a single charge of resisting arrest at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing.

Seibel is accused of sending his son and twin daughters, both 8, outside of his Mamont Drive home on Aug. 9 about 9:30 p.m. to look for seashells, according to testimony and an affidavit of probable cause. The three children walked barefoot to a neighbor's house where they had intended to call their grandmother, who was asleep at the Mamont Drive home, the 14-year-old testified.

When the teen couldn't remember the phone number, neighbor Jerry Yates gave the children milk and candy while he called another neighbor, who is a state trooper, Yates testified.

Township Officer Dakota Drew testified that he responded to Mamont Drive about 10:30 p.m. and found the three children with Yates.

“They were generally just sad, seemed a little upset,” Drew said.

At Seibel's home, officers spent five to 10 minutes knocking on the door with no response, he testified. They entered through an open door and found an intoxicated Seibel “partially unconscious” in a bed in the basement, Drew testified.

Officers ordered Seibel to remove his hands from underneath a blanket and when one officer attempted to grab the covering, a struggle ensued and Seibel eventually was placed under arrest, Drew testified.

Public defender Christopher Haidze argued that the child endangerment charges should be graded as misdemeanors and not felonies.

“There's no indication from (the teen) that Mr. Seibel did anything to prevent them from just going into the house,” Haidze said. “He didn't tell them to go down the street. He didn't lock them out of the house.”

Assistant District Attorney Peter Caravello said Seibel was drinking and it was dark out when the kids were sent outside.

“It was 10 o'clock at night, the sun was down, most kids should be getting ready for bed,” Caravello argued. “They're scared to the point that they don't even think it's safe to go back in.”

Seibel is free on $25,000 bail, but Buczak said he may revoke the bail if Seibel does not check himself into an inpatient treatment program by Wednesday.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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