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Latrobe couple accused of using car trunk to end son's fear of the dark

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Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Westmoreland County Detectives allege a Latrobe couple attempted to cure one of their sons of “being afraid of the dark” when they locked him in the car trunk while entering a Ligonier Township amusement park last summer.

Jeffrey A. Lenhart, 26, and Danielle L. Lenhart, 25, of Latrobe are charged with three counts of reckless endangerment and single counts of criminal conspiracy and child endangerment in connection with three incidents in July, police said.

Detective Robert Weaver said the case was referred to detectives by the county children's bureau after one of the Lenhart's three young sons described three incidents in interviews with child welfare officials.

“During the interview, the victim disclosed that (the Lenharts) would stop the car and play a game where he would be given a flashlight and told to look for candy in the trunk of the car, and he would crawl into the trunk before the car would drive into Idlewild Park,” Weaver said.

Weaver said that the child said the Lenharts told him he “was learning not to be afraid in the dark by riding in the trunk of the Lenhart's vehicle.”

Once the vehicle drove into the park, the Lenharts would release the boy from the trunk, police said.

Police allege the incidents occurred July 7, 14 and 21.

The Lenharts' two other young children were not subjected to the treatment and were permitted to ride in the back seat of the vehicle, Weaver said.

The Lenharts were released on recognizance bond pending a preliminary hearing on Dec. 13.

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