By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer
A man accused of raping three young children while he babysat them was “ready to go forward” with his preliminary hearing Thursday but the prosecution put the brakes on, arguing that the children shouldn’t have to testify in the man’s presence.
Jaime Jones, 43, was a truck driver who would make stops in the Shenango Valley to visit relatives. During visits between 2009 and 2011, police say he molested the children.
His last known address was in Oxford, N.C.
William J. Moder, assistant district attorney, asked District Judge Ronald Antos for more time to file a motion with the Mercer County Common Pleas court that would allow at least two of the children, ages 8 and 9, to testify by closed-circuit TV or by deposition.
“The law allows this if the victims are young or if they’re intimidated by the court or the defendant,” Moder said.
“The court must find that it’s appropriate.”
Based on statements made by the children to Mercer County Youth services and a video recording with one of the victims at the Lawrence County Child Advocacy Center in New Castle, police charged Jones with six counts each of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, statutory sexual assault and indecent assault.
One of the children said the assaults happened “every day.”
Defense attorney Charles F. Gilchrest, was quick to object to the continuance because they were ready to hear the testimony.
“Due to the nature of the charges, I’m going to overrule this,” Antos said.
Antos rescheduled the preliminary hearing for 8:30 a.m. May 30, to give the Common Pleas Court time to rule on the motion.