Five girls ages 11 to 17 testified yesterday that Philadelphia lawyer Larry Charles sexually assaulted them, in some cases over the course of five years.
Charles, wearing washed-out black jeans and a black, long-sleeved T-shirt, sat silently during a preliminary hearing in Family Court as the girls, one after another, described how he bought them clothes and other items, took them to restaurants, gave them cash, and sexually assaulted them.
Charles, 49, had already been charged with rape and related offenses. Police said a sheriff's deputy found him naked with a partially dressed 14-year-old in a lawyer's lounge at the Criminal Justice Center on Jan. 15, Martin Luther King's Birthday. She testified that Charles fondled her breasts and that she touched his genitals.
The five girls who testified yesterday were two pairs of sisters and the cousin of one pair, all from North Philadelphia. One girl said that Charles, who is married, fathered a son and a daughter with their mother.
Three of the girls said they referred to him as their godfather.
Under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Jim Carpenter, one girl, now 11, said that when she was 5 Charles took her to "an apartment," the description of which indicated it could be a motel room.
"He would take off my clothes, and he would take off his," she testified.
"He would touch me in improper places" with his hands and his penis, she said. Later, she testified that Charles had vaginal and anal sex with her. Charles then took her shopping for books and school supplies, she said.
She testified that this happened on at least five occasions. The girl said she never told her mother about the incidents. One girl testified that Charles said that if she told anyone that it would wreck his career and that she would be in trouble.
The oldest girl, now 17, said that when she was aged 10 to 13, Charles would take her shopping for clothes and on helicopter rides.
She said he would take her to motels in New Jersey, his office on Woodland Avenue and a room in the Criminal Justice Center. Charles would have her sit on his lap.
"He would tell me how big I had gotten," she said. Charles would then have her touch his penis, she said.
The girls testified that the incidents occurred at motels in New Jersey, the Criminal Justice Center, Charles' office on Woodland Avenue and an office on Chestnut Street.
Charles is charged with two counts of rape, two counts of indecent sexual assault, five counts of corrupting the morals of a minor and other charges, officials said. He is facing more 30 years in prison if convicted of all counts.
Charles, whom officials said was a social worker before becoming a lawyer, is being held in protective custody on $25 million bail.
Judge Albert Stallone, a visiting judge from Berks County, denied a request by Charles' attorney, Angelo Cameron, to have the bail reduced and ordered him held for trial. Stallone, noting that Charles had been arrested in a Bucks County motel room and appeared to have suffered a drug overdose, denied the request, saying he considered Charles a flight risk.