Defense lawyer Larry Charles got underage girls to touch him and sometimes have sex with him by using a similar set of moves, according to testimony from five girls in Family Court yesterday.
He knew them in some way. He took them shopping. Most called him "godfather."
He allegedly had sex with the girls or had them rub his private parts at various venues - the Criminal Justice Center, a New Jersey motel, his city offices, at a bank. Afterward, he sometimes gave them cash - up to $200, they testified.
The youngest girl he is accused of having sex with was 5.
Yesterday, Charles, 49, of East Oak Lane, faced five separate preliminary hearings on sexual-assault or indecent-assault-related charges.
In February, he was held for trial on rape, sexual assault and other charges in the case of a 14-year-old girl with whom he was caught naked in the lawyers' lounge at the Criminal Justice Center at 13th and Filbert streets on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Two of the five girls who testified yesterday are sisters of the 14-year-old. A third is a cousin.
The two other girls are sisters whose mother had dated Charles. The mother had two younger children with him.
In a quiet courtroom yesterday, the girl who was 5 when Charles allegedly preyed on her relayed her disturbing encounters.
Now 11, speaking in a mature voice, she said Charles had taken her to what she thought was an office and an apartment. "He would tell me to take off my clothes" in the apartment, she testified. "He would take off his."
"He would tell me to lie down on the bed. . . . He would touch me in improper places - my chest, my vagina and my butt."
Charles, she testified under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Jim Carpenter, penetrated her vaginally and anally.
This type of thing happened "more than five times," she said.
At least once afterward "he would take me to the store and buy books and school supplies," she testified.
The girl's sister, now 17, said she knew Charles when she was 10 to 13 years old: "We went to Blockbuster, we went on helicopter rides, we went shopping."
Charles, she said, invited her to watch him as he worked as a defense attorney at the Criminal Justice Center. He also took her to the third-floor lawyers' lounge, where he asked her to put on her new jeans, shirts, skirts or shorts.
He told her to sit on his lap and touch him, she testified.
Later, when she was 16, the teen testified that her mother asked her to go to the Criminal Justice Center to get money from Charles, presumably for child support for his two biological kids.
This time, she testified, Charles took her to the lawyers' lounge and "pushed me on this chair and performed oral sex" on her. Then, after she fell onto the floor, he allegedly "forced himself inside me," penetrating her, she said as her voice quivered.
Afterward, Charles "gave me $200," which she gave to her mother, the teen testified.
The other pair of sisters - siblings of the 14-year-old in the February preliminary hearing - said they knew Charles through an older sister, who has since passed away. A cousin of theirs also testified that she came to know Charles from that same sister.
They all called him "godfather."
One sister, now 16, testified under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Devon Turner that when she was 14, Charles took her to a New Jersey motel.
"He told me to take all my clothes off," she said. "I was scared. He first started rubbing on my breasts with his hands. Then he started sucking on my breasts. Then he put his penis in my vagina. He told me it was nothing to be scared of. . . . After, we went to the bank. He gave me $100."
Charles took her to a different Jersey motel another time when she asked for $180 to get braids in her hair, the teen said. This time, she said she tried to escape.
"I ran to the door," she said. "He jumped in front of me. Then I lay on the bed. He took my clothes off. . . . We were having sex" as he forced her down, she testified.
Her sister, now 12, said that starting when she was 8 years old, Charles took her to his Southwest Philadelphia and Center City offices and to a private room in a bank. At times, he asked her to sit on his lap and "hump him" with their clothes on, she said.
Their cousin, now 11, testified that she met Charles when she was 8 or 9. Once, in an anteroom of a courtroom in the Criminal Justice Center, she said "he made me sit on his lap. He was feeling on my leg." He also had her feel his private parts, she said. He allegedly then gave her $20.
As each girl testified, Charles listened and looked at her. He had been escorted into the courtroom by sheriff's deputies with his hands cuffed behind his back. The cuffs were removed during testimony.
The lawyer, whose license has been suspended by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania's Disciplinary Board, wore faded black jeans, which contrasted with his shiny, black leather shoes.
On these five new cases, Berks County Court Senior Judge Albert A. Stallone, a visiting judge assigned to the cases, held Charles for trial on two counts of rape and sexual assault; five counts of unlawful contact, corruption of minors and indecent assault; and other offenses. Charles is being held on $25 million bail.
His trial on the first case involving the 14-year-old girl, originally scheduled for this week, has been rescheduled for Sept. 10. The prosecution is expected to ask to consolidate all the cases at a June 15 motions hearing.
Carpenter said after the hearings that these cases are a reminder to parents to be more mindful of whom they allow to be alone with their children. Only 5 to 10 percent of sexual-assault crimes are reported to authorities, he said. *