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Owner of Old City magic venue accused of assaulting 13-year-old girl

Joseph Grasso is to appear in court today for allegedly molesting a 13-year-old girl who lived at his home in Montgomery County.

Grasso: Threatened suicide, wife says.
Grasso: Threatened suicide, wife says.Read more

THE OWNER of an Old City magic theater allegedly revealed a dark secret at his home in Montgomery County last month, police said, then threatened to make himself disappear.

Joseph Grasso, 69, of Towamencin Township, will make a special appearance in district court in Lansdale today, accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl living with him and his wife.

Grasso opened Grasso's Magic Theatre at Callowhill and Front streets in 2009. The small venue hosted magic shows for families and children, along with burlesque for adults

"I always loved magic since I was a kid," Grasso told the Daily News in 2012.

According to a criminal complaint, Grasso's wife was making breakfast at the couple's home on Broxton Court near Kareve Drive on March 29, when she entered the living room and saw her husband, on the couch, with his hand beneath the girl's pajama top. Grasso's wife, according to the complaint, immediately confronted him.

"It's not what you think it is," Grasso replied, according to the complaint.

Grasso also threatened to kill himself at the home, his wife told police, holding a steak knife to his chest before she and the girl, who had been living there almost a year, left for the police station.

Grasso was arrested April 1 and is charged with aggravated indecent assault, child endangerment and other offenses and remains in the Montgomery County jail in lieu of $250,000 bail.

According to the criminal complaint, the 13-year-old victim told police that Grasso had molested her the prior night, too, while she watched television in the home's rec room. Grasso's wife, according to the complaint, told police that the girl admitted Grasso had been molesting her two to three times per week, touching her breasts and genital area, starting almost as soon as she moved there in April 2013. The Daily News is withholding the girl's relationship to Grasso to protect her identity.

Grasso, according to the complaint, told the girl he would go to prison if she ever told anyone "and it would be her fault."

No one answered the door yesterday at Grasso's home or Grasso's Magic Theatre. The theater's website said all shows were canceled due to "unforseen [sic] circumstances," and an answering-machine message said it was closed "indefinitely."

One magician who performed at Grasso's was Jeffrey R. Leach, a South Jersey magician and registered sex offender. He performed at the theater as Jeff Carson. New Jersey officials said there was nothing barring Leach from performing as a magician around children.

Officers with the local Society of American Magicians did not return phone calls and emails for comment.