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September 7, 2013

2 city men deny luring young boys

EBENSBURG — Two Johnstown men are attempting to convince a Cambria County judge that when they motioned and called to two boys in July 2012 they were not attempting to lure them, as charged by city police.  

Harry Milton Jones, 72, of Bedford Street, and Richard George Norton, 45, of Railroad Street, told Judge Linda Fleming through their attorneys this week that their actions should not necessarily mean they intended to cause any harm to the boys.

An attempt to lure does not occur on the mere offer of a ride, said attorney David Raho of the Cambria County Public Defenders Office, who represents Jones.

Attorney Gregory Neugebauer, also with the public defenders office and representing Norton, agreed with Pennsylvania case law cited by Raho.

But Cambria County Assistant District Attorney Beth Bolton Penna said Jones and Norton did far more than wave.

At one point they followed the boys to the point the boys feared they were going to be hit.

“We don’t just have a mere wave, this was a chase down,” Bolton Penna told Fleming.

Police allege that Jones and Norton attempted to lure the brothers, ages 12 and 7, into a pickup in Old Conemaugh Borough on July 9, 2012.

The boys were riding bicycles near Railroad Street when Jones and Norton, who had allegedly been watching them, attempted to get the boys into the truck, police said.

Norton, the passenger, repeatedly called “come here,” and motioned to the boys from the truck window, police said in the criminal complaint.

When the truck moved toward the boys, the 12-year-old told his brother to run and both boys rode off on their bikes.

“The truck followed them and the driver floored it,” Bolton Penna said. “The older boy felt he was going to be hit by the truck.”

Bolton Penna argued that there was no reason for the men to be making contact with the boys.

Raho argued that the words were only to “come here,” and there was no offer of further enticement such as candy, ice cream or money.

Additionally, he said, they did not ask the boys to get into or enter the truck, only to come to it.

“I believe that is very significant,” Raho told the court.

The case law referred to was dealing with inclement weather and does not apply to the circumstances in the Norton-Jones cases, Bolton Penna said.

“There was no inclement weather. There is no indication they were good Samaritans giving them (the boys) a ride home.”

And the boys had bikes, she said.

Fleming did not indicate when she would issue a ruling.

Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.

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