The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


March 11, 2011

Charges: Man sexually assaulted preteen girl at Mennonite church

MILTON — A 27-year-old Watsontown man is facing felony and misdemeanor charges for allegedly having sex with a young girl several times as she attended church and school functions.

State police at Milton said Jethro Lee Groff, of 415 Blue Ball Road, first approached the 11-year-old in the summer of 2008 as she was getting a snack in the basement of the Shalom Mennonite Church in East Chillisquaque Township.

Groff fondled and pinched the child, court documents said.

Several months later, on Feb. 6, 2009, Groff allegedly sexually assaulted the girl while she attended a Maranath Mennonite Christian School function in Lewis Township.

Afterward, he told the girl, “I’m finished with you now,” court records said.

At another school function on Sept. 18, 2009, the girl was watching twin infants and Groff told her to return the babies to their parents.

He then sexually assaulted the girl, telling her “I’ve got big plans for you” as he commented about impregnating her, court records said.

The girl told police that she experienced “grumpy days” and felt ill after the assaults.

Groff admitted having sexual relations with the girl, calling them “consensual” and “spur of the moment” acts, court records said.

Jason Kroutch, an administrator at Maranath, said Groff is not associated with the school but is a member of the Shalom Mennonite Church. Church officials did not respond to a call Thursday.

Groff is charged with felony statutory sexual and misdemeanor corruption of a minor, indecent sexual assault and sexual assault.

He’s scheduled to appear at an April 20 hearing before District Judge Robert J. Bolton in Milton.

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