Tuesday, February 08, 2000

Man charged with raping boy accused of victimizing others

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — A former foster care worker jailed on accusations that he raped a boy at the Midwestern Children's Home six years ago now faces sex charges involving two more boys.

        Roy Puckelwartz, a 44-year-old former Church of Christ minister, was indicted Monday on eight additional charges, including rape, gross sexual imposition and attempted rape.

        Sheriff's investigators declined comment on the new development, and Warren County Prosecutor Tim Oliver would say only that the charges stem from a 1993 investi gation reopened this summer.

        He was unsure of the boys' ages but said he thought one was under 12 at the time of the alleged molestation.

        Mr. Puckelwartz's lawyer, Don Oda, preparing to go to trial in the initial case Feb. 22, questioned the timing of the new charges.

        “The new charges are new information to me. I'm curious in knowing what facts they have now that they didn't have six years ago, and why this case didn't go forward six years ago, when really it should have,” he said from his Lebanon law office.

        Mr. Puckelwartz, held in Warren County on a $60,000 bond, was arrested in St. Petersburg, Fla., in December after a Warren County grand jury indicted him on two counts of rape involving a 13-year-old boy in his care in 1993.

        At the time, Mr. Puckelwartz and his wife, Bonnie, worked as live-in supervisors in a group home at the Harlan Township center for troubled youth.

        Midwestern officials fired Mr. Puckelwartz in late 1993 after members of Mr. Puckel wartz's former church in Michigan alleged that he had made sexual overtures to a 16-year-old boy there.

        In March 1994, three months after Mr. Puckelwartz was fired, the 13-year-old boy told Midwestern officials that Mr. Puckelwartz had raped him. Another boy reported that Mr. Puckelwartz had sexually abused him.

        Investigators from Warren County Children Services Board and the sheriff's office looked into the allegations, but the investigation was eventually closed.

        County officials have been unable to explain why no charges were filed at the time or what happened to the investigation.

        Allegations of sexual misconduct resurfaced last summer, when a third former resident called Midwestern officials. That spurred county officials to reopen the case against Mr. Puckelwartz.

        Mr. Puckelwartz was working as a gym teacher at a private Christian academy in St. Petersburg when police located him for questioning in November. He was fired.

        Florida authorities said Mr. Puckelwartz and his wife also were attempting to adopt a 2-year-old nephew at the time of the arrest. The Florida Department of Children and Families put the adoption on hold after learning of the allegations against Mr. Puckelwartz.


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