Jordan Krause has spent much of the past four years trying to get someone to believe he was molested in 2009 by Timothy Smith, the top aide of longtime U.S. Rep. Tim Holden.
Muhlenberg Township police Detective Ramon Caraballo believed him and recommended aggravated indecent assault charges against Smith in 2010 and witness intimidation charges against another man he believed tried to pressure Krause into dropping the complaint.
Still, Berks County District Attorney John Adams declined to file charges, citing insufficient evidence.
The case may well have ended there except Krause and Caraballo wouldn't let it rest.
In 2012, Adams forwarded the case to the state attorney general's office. After a secret grand jury investigation, agents for Attorney General Kathleen Kane on Monday filed charges of aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault against Smith, 53, of Muhlenberg Township.
"For four years people have been looking at me like I'm lying," said Krause, 25, who allowed The Morning Call to use his name. (The newspaper typically does not publish the names of sex-assault victims.) "Not a single day has gone by when I didn't wonder why he was never arrested. Finally, there's a chance for justice. It's like a giant weight has been lifted from me.
"I'm not afraid anymore," he said.
Caraballo said it's been a difficult four years for him, too.
"Because I refused to let this case be covered up, I have been retaliated against," he said.
"I won't say more than that, except to say I don't believe this is the end."
Smith, through his Reading attorney, said he is innocent.
"Mr. Smith is adamant that he committed no criminal offense," said the attorney, Jay Nigrini. "He's dedicated his life to public service and he's looking forward to clearing his name before a fair and impartial jury of his peers."
He added, "We're confident that the number of individuals who will support Mr. Smith as character witnesses will be lined up around the courthouse."
Another man told The Morning Call he testified before the same grand jury in October about his own accusations that Smith invited him to his home and molested him when he was a teenager in the late 1980s.
No charges were filed in that case.
Muhlenberg Township police denied The Morning Call's requests for complaints filed against Smith, saying they were part of a criminal investigation.
When first interviewed by The Morning Call in February 2012, Holden and Adams insisted that the allegations were pushed by Elwood Broad, a former top congressional aide who served 18 months in federal prison for embezzling $60,000 from the late U.S. Rep. Gus Yatron's campaign funds.
Broad was a Yatron staff member with Smith in the 1980s, and he was a close friend of Krause's family. Krause was living with Broad at the time of the alleged assault.
Holden told The Morning Call last year, "As far as I can tell, these [allegations] are the actions of a disgruntled employee."
But Caraballo from the start believed a crime was committed. And Krause refused to give up, alleging that Adams had a conflict of interest because he had long-standing political ties to Smith and Holden.
Holden, when contacted Wednesday, said he couldn't reconcile the Smith who showed uncommon care and compassion for every constituent who arrived at Holden's office, with the Smith described in the attorney general's criminal complaint.
When the allegations were first sent by Krause to Holden in an anonymous fax in 2009, Holden said he met with Smith and told him that if charges were filed, he'd be suspended and if a conviction came, he'd be fired. Holden said he believed that day would never come. He said though he's long been a close political ally of Adams, he never discussed the allegations with Adams and never made any attempt to keep charges from being filed.
"I take these types of charges very seriously, but Tim told me he didn't do this, and I believed him," said Holden, who lost his re-election attempt in the 2012 Democratic primary. "It's so out of character for him, I still can't believe it. Tim was a hardworking, caring person who spent 20 years making me look good. I guess we'll just have to let the justice system play out."
With the Jerry Sandusky sex-assault scandal as a backdrop, and Holden last year in the midst of a campaign for an 11th term as 17th District congressman, the investigation had far-reaching implications statewide, where investigators and politicians now have heightened sensitivities to abuse claims against influential people.
In 2010, a year before the Sandusky case broke, Muhlenberg Township police recommended charges against Smith.
"We did our investigation and it was referred to the DA," police Chief Erik P. Grunzig said in 2010. "You'll have to ask him why no charges were filed."
In 2012, Adams called the case an orchestrated attempt to embarrass Smith.
"The victims are looking for some way to embarrass Tim Smith," Adams said. "We thoroughly looked at this matter. We've done an independent investigation and I guarantee you we've talked to witnesses police have not talked to.
"We determined there was insufficient evidence," Adams said. "However, this matter remains open."
This week, he reiterated that he handled the case appropriately.
"After a period of time, we decided that to erase any appearance of a conflict of interest we would refer the case to the state attorney general's office," Adams said. "It's not our case. Not our investigation. It would be totally improper for me to comment on it."
Holden, 56, of St. Clair, is a former Schuylkill County sheriff who won a congressional seat in 1993 as a Democrat, and repeatedly won easy re-election despite being in a Republican-leaning district that included the counties of Schuylkill, Dauphin and Lebanon, and parts of Berks and Perry. A new congressional map put parts of Northampton County in the district this year.
Smith, known as Smitty to his friends, was Holden's district director from 1993 until he retired when Holden left office. He earned $101,131 in 2012 and received $10,000 listed as "other compensation" on the day before Holden left office in January. Before working for Holden, Smith spent five years as a youth counselor at the Berks County Youth Center, according to his LinkedIn page.
The attorney general complaint said Smith is charged with climbing into bed with a drunk and sleeping Krause, where he whispered to Krause, licked his neck and fondled him, until Krause, then 21, woke and fled.
According to the criminal complaint filed in court:
On Sept. 19, 2009, Krause's father, Lewis, invited his son to a party at Smith's home on Girard Avenue in Muhlenberg Township. Krause said he drank alcohol with his father, Smith and others in the basement, where there was a bar, pool table, television and bed. Krause said he became intoxicated and decided he should not drive home, so Smith invited him to sleep in the bed.
Krause was awakened later by someone behind him. As he woke, he realized everyone else from the party was gone and Smith had gotten into bed with him. Smith whispered to him and licked his neck, while reaching over him and "groping me, feeling my private areas, butt cheeks etc," according to the complaint. Without consent, Smith put his hands inside Krause's pants, touched his penis and used his hands to penetrate his anus.
Krause got away from Smith and ran into a basement bathroom. Twice he opened the bathroom door to find Smith sitting on the bed. During a third try opening the door, Krause saw that Smith had gone and Krause fled on foot, partially dressed and without shoes and leaving his car keys and car behind. As he ran down Kutztown Road, he called Deeann Franco, a friend's mother, who lived in the neighborhood. She picked him up minutes later.
"He was literally running down the street when he called," Franco said. "When he got in the car, he threw his glasses across the car and burst into tears. I called 911 immediately."
Police gathered Krause at Franco's house in the early morning of Sept. 20 and took him to the station to file a report.
Two days later, Krause said, he faxed an anonymous letter to Holden's Washington, D.C., office, claiming that Smith was under investigation for sexual assault.
A day later, Krause said a man showed up at the Spring Street home where Krause was living with Broad and said "the fax to the congressman's office was not appreciated. These charges better disappear." He then handed over a tape he said contained incriminating video of Broad from 20 years earlier.
Holden confirmed that he did receive an anonymous fax to his office in 2009, but said he never knew where it came from and knew nothing about anyone visiting Krause.
Muhlenberg Township police had recommended charges of witness intimidation be filed against the man who delivered the video, according to a 2010 police report Krause gave to The Morning Call. But no charges have been filed.
Smith, who is free on $50,000 unsecured bail, is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Oct. 28 before District Judge Dean R. Patton in Muhlenberg Township.
"I've been waiting a long time for this," said Krause, who has since moved from Reading. "I'm excited for my chance to be heard."
Through his attorney, Smith said he too wants a chance to be heard.
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