DEFENSE LAWYER Larry Charles - the alleged pervert accused of luring a 14-year-old girl to the Criminal Justice Center for sex on Martin Luther King Jr. Day - had been naughty with her before, the teen testified yesterday, and had lauded her with a hundred bucks and boots.
She called him "godfather" and thought that the lawyers' lounge in the court building was "his office."
At Charles' preliminary hearing in Family Court yesterday on rape, sexual assault and other charges, the ninth-grader said she had met the lawyer, who is not related to her, through an older sister, who has since passed away.
The attorney, 49, dressed at the hearing in a dark-blue pinstripe suit, had treated the teen to "clothes, sneaks and boots" and to "Red Lobster, Chinese buffet and Old Country Buffet," she testified.
Sometimes, the teen said during her hourlong testimony, he touched her and wanted sex.
Charles, of East Oak Lane, was caught at the Criminal Justice Center after sheriff's deputies found him naked in the lawyers' lounge.
On the holiday, Charles picked the teen up from her Philadelphia home and took her to the court building in the afternoon, the teen testified, speaking into a microphone in a serious voice, her long braided hair swinging by her hips.
After he punched the code to get into the lawyers' lounge, she said, they entered the large room, then went into a small room with a soda machine and a chair.
In between questions by Assistant District Attorney James Carpenter, the teen testified that in the small room:
"He put the chair near the door, then he closed it. He told me to take my clothes off. I took them off. . . . My sneakers, my jeans, my panties."
Charles got completely naked, then sat in a chair and "told me to sit on his lap," she said. "He was feeling on himself."
Her "godfather" then told her to move her hand up and down on "his ding-a-ling," she said, as he felt underneath her bra.
"I was doing it for a while, then something came out - white stuff," she said. "Some went on the tissue, some went on the floor. He wiped himself, then he wiped the floor."
Around that time, after the teen got dressed, sheriff's deputy Andrew Ortiz tried opening the door to the small room in the third-floor lawyers' lounge, but someone on the other side kept pushing back, the deputy testified yesterday.
According to Ortiz, Charles said: "Wait a minute, I'll be right out." When Ortiz finally opened the door, he found Charles "completely naked" even without socks, he said in response to questioning by defense attorney Angelo Cameron.
Under direct examination, Ortiz said the young girl was "in the corner cowering. She had her hands up over her mouth."
Ortiz said he told Charles: "Get dressed. You're done."
The deputy cuffed Charles and emptied out the lawyer's pockets. Charles asked if he could throw out some tissues, but the deputy and a sergeant put the tissues in a bag for evidence.
Then, as they were exiting the lounge, "Mr. Charles had a tissue in his hand," Ortiz said. "He tried to toss it in a trash can," but it landed on the floor. Ortiz grabbed it to add to the evidence bag.
Ortiz testified that he went to search for Charles about 2:40 p.m. that day.
On federal holidays, the public, including lawyers, are only allowed in the basement of the Criminal Justice Center for bail postings and other matters. Ortiz said he couldn't find Charles in the basement, so he went to the lawyers' lounge.
Sheriff's deputy Delores Ramos testified under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Nicole Tate-Phillips that she first saw Charles, whom she recognized as an attorney, and the girl when they entered the building.
"He hurried along past me," she said. After the metal detector at the public entrance went off, Ramos asked Charles what he was doing. He told her, "I'm going down to pay bail," she testified.
Ramos told him that his guest needed to sign in. To that Charles replied, "She cannot read or write English," testified Ramos. Yet, at that moment, the teen was writing her name in the log book.
The teen also testified that sometime last fall, Charles took her to the large room in the lawyers' lounge.
"He told me to sit on his lap" as "his ding-a-ling" got "hard," she said. They were both clothed.
And he touched her twice in his Center City office, she testified.
Around early December, she went in his car to his second-floor office on Chestnut Street near 10th. The girl said she didn't want to go, but complied after he hit her in the face with an open hand while in the car.
In the office, he told her to take off her clothes, she said, which she did. He took off his. "I told him I ain't going to have sex with him," she testified. To that, she said, Charles pushed her on the couch, got on top of her, penetrated her and "we was having sex."
Charles then began feeling himself and "something came out white," she testified.
Afterward, they went to nearby Bare Feet Shoes, where Charles bought her boots, she said.
The girl also went to Charles' office sometime after Christmas, she said. That time, she sat in a chair with her jeans and panties off while he sat on his knees between her legs and "stuck his finger in my vagina," she testified.
When he finished, "he took me home and gave me some money," she said.
Then there was the time last fall, about October, when he took her to a one-level hotel in New Jersey. On the bed, the teen testified they both had removed their clothes, but she did not want to have sex with him.
"He just stuck it in" she testified, saying he put one hand on her neck to keep her down.
That time, he gave her $100.
During cross-examination, Cameron asked if Charles ever threatened her to get her to go with him.
The teen testified: "I didn't want to go with him." When Cameron asked again whether any threats were made, she said, "no."
Berks County Common Pleas Judge Albert A. Stallone, sitting as a Municipal Court judge, held Charles for trial on charges of rape, sexual assault, indecent exposure, corruption of a minor, false imprisonment, criminal trespass and related offenses. Stallone, a visiting judge, was asked to preside over the hearing because it involved a Philadelphia attorney.
Charles faces a March 9 arraignment. His jury trial is expected to be scheduled for the week of April 30.
Prosecutor Carpenter asked the judge to hold Charles, who has been free after posting 10 percent of a $50,000 bail, on no bail contending he was a flight risk and a risk to the community or to increase bail to $4 million.
To determine Charles' financial situation, the defendant was called to the witness stand.
Under questioning by Carpenter, Charles said he has $16 in a Commerce Bank account and a negative balance of $350 at Citizens Bank.
His wife, who is unemployed, owns the house they live in on 10th Street near 69th Avenue, he said.
Last year, Charles said his income was about $50,000 for defending clients who "weren't rich." He has since lost his most recent clients, he said.
"My practice is over," Charles testified.
According to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania's Disciplinary Board, Charles' license was ordered to be temporarily suspended effective March 8.
After learning about Charles' finances, the judge denied the prosecution's request to raise bail.
"I'm at the end of my rope." Charles said.