Pottstown man, 79, guilty of in­de­cent con­tact with child

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS IN THE SPOTLIGHT - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mont­coCourtNews on Twit­ter

NORRISTOWN » A 79-yearold Pottstown man has been con­victed of hav­ing in­de­cent con­tact with a 6-yearold girl at a bor­ough play­ground.

Saif Fadil Azookari, of 200 block of King Street, was con­victed in Montgomery County Court this week of a mis­de­meanor charge of in­de­cent as­sault of a per­son less than 13 years old in connection with the April in­ci­dent at South Evans and Cherry streets. Judge Wil­liam R. Car­pen­ter ren­dered the ver­dict after a non-jury trial at which Azookari stip­u­lated to cer­tain facts con­tained in an af­fi­davit of prob­a­ble cause filed by bor­ough de­tec­tives.

Car­pen­ter de­ferred sen­tenc­ing so that court of­fi­cials can com­plete a pre­sen­tence in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port. Azookari, who re­mains free on bail pend­ing sen­tenc­ing, faces a pos­si­ble max­i­mum sen­tence of 2½ to five years in prison on the charge. However, state sen­tenc­ing guide­lines could al­low for a lesser sen­tence.

Azookari also faces an eval­u­a­tion by the Penn­syl­va­nia Sex­ual Of­fend­ers Assess­ment Board, which will determine if he meets cri­te­ria un­der state law to be clas­si­fied as a sex­u­ally vi­o­lent preda­tor. Those clas­si­fied as preda­tors face more strin­gent re­stric­tions un­der state law, in­clud­ing com­mu­nity no­ti­fi­ca­tion about their liv­ing ar­range­ments.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Azookari be­gan about 2:30 p.m. April 14 when bor­ough po­lice re­sponded to a play­ground area at South Evans and Cherry streets for a re­port of a sus­pi­cious male who had in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­tact with a lit­tle girl. The mother of the girl told po­lice her daugh­ter had been play­ing at the park with friends when she came home “cry­ing and vis­i­bly up­set,” ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint filed by Pottstown De­tec­tive Brooke Fisher.

The girl told her mother that a man at the play­ground had placed his hand down her pants and touched her in­ap­pro­pri­ately, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

The girl later told de­tec­tives that Azookari had told her to sit with him and then touched her in an in­de­cent man­ner at a bench in the park, ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint.

An­other child at the play­ground wit­nessed the in­ci­dent, court doc­u­ments in­di­cate.

When de­tec­tives ques­tioned Azookari about the in­ci­dent he claimed the girl sat on his lap and he noticed that her pants were down and he helped pull up her pants.

“Azookari de­nied that any­thing else hap­pened and said that she was only on his lap for a cou­ple sec­onds,” said Fisher, adding Azookari re­peat­edly de­scribed the child as “a beau­ti­ful girl.”

On sev­eral oc­ca­sions dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Azookari called de­tec­tives to in­quire about the sta­tus of the case and he ut­tered, “I’m sick, she should for­get about it,” ac­cord­ing to the ar­rest af­fi­davit. On an­other oc­ca­sion, Azookari told de­tec­tives he had $500 cash “and that he could give it to the mother to get rid of the case,” ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint.

The case was pros­e­cuted by As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Matthew Brit­ten­burg. Azookari was rep­re­sented by de­fense lawyer Joshua Ru­dolph.

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