At least one child will publicly testify at the trial of a juvenile court psychologist who is accused of illegally touching four children, a Delaware County judge ruled yesterday.
Jerry Lazaroff, 59, of Villanova, has been charged with indecent assault, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children in cases involving children from three families.
The children have said Lazaroff touched them in inappropriate places while they were in therapy sessions - some court-ordered and others not. Lazaroff was suspended without pay last month from his county position.
Yesterday, the mothers and one father of the children detailed the alleged abuse and what the impact of testifying in open court would have on their children.
Visiting Senior Judge Charles Smith from Chester County ruled the now 11-year-old girl should testify in person rather than by closed-circuit television. The girl has told her story to extended family, teachers, coaches and friends.
"She felt a need to tell people what happened to her," her mother said in court.
The mother of a 7-year-old boy said that on an earlier occasion her child screamed and cried after just driving on Providence Road near Lazaroff's office and that testifying in court would "traumatize him beyond belief."
"Please don't make me see him again," the mother told the court her child said when he mistakenly thought he was being taken for a therapy appointment.
The boy told police Lazaroff hurt his penis when he tickled him while they were playing marbles.
The judge ruled the boy would not have to testify in open court.
"It is still my hope to try and present him by closed circuit," said Deputy District Attorney Michael R. Galantino.
The judge indicated he would will rule at another time concerning the two youngest victims, sisters now seven and five years old.
The mother of the two girls testified when they first told her Lazaroff was "flicking" their bottoms with his fingers, she asked her attorney, Thomas Musi, of Media, if it was "normal" for a psychologist to put his hands on children.
"Don't make any allegations about Dr. Lazaroff, he is well-respected by the courts," she said Musi told her. When charges against Lazaroff were first disclosed, the mother said Musi contacted her by phone and told her to call the police.
When reached by phone, Musi declined to comment citing an open investigation in the case and attorney-client privilege.