An Indiana man gave up his right to a hearing Tuesday on allegations that he engaged in sex acts with a 13-year-old Clymer boy near Two Lick Lake, and faces adjudication in Indiana County Common Pleas Court on 13 felony charges.
Stephen Czerniec Jr., of South Fifth Street, forwent a scheduled hearing in Blairsville District Court and was returned to the Indiana County Jail to await formal arraignment in the county court. He has been unable to post $25,000 cash bond since his arrest June 19.
State police charged that Czerniec, 51, and the youth met over the Grindr and KIK messaging apps and exchanged nude photos of one another and explicit text messages before they agreed to meet.
According to a criminal complaint, the youth’s father discovered the exchange of messages on a Samsung tablet that he and his son shared in their home and contacted state police at 6:55 p.m. June 16, about a half hour after his son left their residence for the rendezvous with Czerniec.
Trooper John McCombie III reported that the boy had returned home not long before McCombie arrived to begin his investigation.
In an affidavit of probable cause, McCombie wrote that he was shown the photos and messages on the tablet, and that the boy and his father both signed permission for McCombie to take it for forensic study.
The youth told McCombie that he and Czerniec had been messaging each other since 12:19 p.m. and agreed to meet at the parking lot of First National Bank. From there, the boy said, Czerniec drove to a remote area along Airport Road in Cherryhill Township or White Township, where they performed (oral) sex acts on each other.
According to the charging documents, McCombie verified the youth’s description of Czerniec’s vehicle, a white soft-top Jeep Wrangler, on a security video recording made at the bank and found a photo of the same Jeep on Czerniec’s Facebook page. He verified the vehicle registration through PennDOT records, then served a search warrant at 4:30 p.m. June 19 at Czerniec’s residence and collected his electronics and two pairs of boxer briefs that appeared in some of the photos sent to the boy on KIK.
Czerniec voluntarily spoke with McCombie at the state police station, according to the complaint. His story matched the youth’s account of their exchange of photos and their ride to the Two Lick reservoir for sexual activity. They planned to meet again June 20, Czerniec told McCombie.
Police charged Czerniec with a provision of the statutory sexual assault law alleging the victim is less than age 16 and the suspect is 11 or more years older, a first-degree felony. McCombie also charged him with aggravated indecent assault of a victim under age 16; corruption of minors by a suspect age 18 or older; and 10 counts of possession of child pornography.
Online court records show Czerniec was represented Tuesday by attorney Taylor Johnson through the county public defender’s office.