Man faces additional abuse charges
BLAIRSVILLE — State police filed additional charges Wednesday against a Burrell Township man, who earlier was accused of sexually assaulting four girls in December while their family stayed at his home, citing a fifth victim in the case.
Robert Lawson, 19, also assaulted a 10-year-old boy, a sibling of the girls, and now faces 41 charges — 26 felonies and 15 misdemeanors — investigators said.
Trooper Jason Morgan amended the charges Wednesday when Lawson appeared for a scheduled preliminary hearing in Blairsville District Court. Judge Jennifer Rega rescheduled the hearing for July 24 and sent Lawson back to the Indiana County Jail, where he has been held since June 6 with bond set at $100,000.
The new counts filed Wednesday include two counts of statutory sexual assault, forcible rape, rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, corruption of minors and three counts of indecent assault.
The accusations against Lawson surfaced in May after the children — including the girls, ages 11, 9, 8 and 6 — had been removed from the home of their mother and her boyfriend, according to the original charging documents.
Investigators referred to their displacement as “protective custody.”
While in foster care, the 8-year-old girl was found “acting out sexually,” and explained “This is what Rob (Lawson) does to me.” Her foster parents notified Indiana County Children and Youth Services, who then contacted state police, court papers show.
According to the criminal complaint and a police news release, the children’s family stayed at Lawson’s mobile home along DuBois Way during the past winter.
During that time, Lawson had intercourse with the children several times in December while their parents were away.
When police questioned Lawson on June 6, he reportedly admitted engaging in sexual activity with the girls.
Information concerning the 10-year-old boy came to investigators’ attention only within the past week, Morgan said.
Attorney Robert Bell, of Indiana, has been appointed by the county to represent Lawson.