Hallstead man convicted on two rape counts
BY STACI WILSON
A Hallstead man who taught hunter’s safety courses and organized youth fishing derbies was convicted on two counts of rape and other sexual assault charges after a two day trial in front of a jury. The jury deliberated for about two hours before returning the verdict.
In addition to the rape counts, John Katchmore, 70, was also found guilty of two counts of aggravated indecent assault and two counts of indecent assault. The assaults happened when the victim, now age 15, was between the ages of about eight and 11.
The victim took the stand on the first day of testimony in Susquehanna County Court. She told the court that Katchmore was a friend of her grandmother, now deceased. She visited Katchmore’s home while with her grandmother.
The girl described how Katchmore had often rubbed her back and then how the touching escalated to include her breast and genital area. She said that when they played hide and seek, Katchmore would “touch me everywhere else.”
She said the assaults began when she was about six or seven years of age, but could not remember her exact age or grade level when the incidents occurred. On the stand, she said Katchmore would touch her inappropriately when they were on ATV rides.
Defense attorney John Petorak pressed the girl for dates or the year when the assaults happened.
The rapes, she told the court, happened once in the bedroom of Katchmore’s residence; and another time in a shed located on a property of a residence he moved to during the time the assaults took place.
Another rape is alleged to have occurred in Binghamton, N.Y.
The victim said that at the time of the second rape she was afraid her grandmother would find out “and get really mad” at her.
Seven months following her grandmother’s death in 2011, the girl disclosed the sexual assaults in a written note to her mother and they reported the abuse to Binghamton police.
District Attorney Jason Legg asked why she waited to report the incidents.
“(My grandmother) was really sick. I didn’t want to put her through it,” she said.
In addition to the victim, witnesses for the prosecution included three of the girl’s friends who she first told about the assaults, the victim’s mother, other members of the family, police investigators and psychotherapist Ann Cook, who the court accepted as an expert on child sexual abuse.
Katchmore took the stand Friday morning. He denied that he had ever inappropriately touched or raped the girl. He said that after the death of the girl’s grandmother, he had no contact with the victim.
He said he sent birthday cards to the victim but no longer included monetary gifts because there had been no contact with the family. When asked by his attorney reasons behind the allegations, Katchmore said, “I’m not really positive. I seem to think money was involved because the gifts had stopped.”
Upon his conviction, Katchmore’s bail was revoked and he was remanded to the Susquehanna County Correctional Facility. President Judge Kenneth Seamans ordered he undergo an evaluation by the Sexual Offender Assessment Board. Sentencing in the case was scheduled for Oct. 24.