Man accused of molesting girl in custody, faces 40 charges

An Altoona man accused of molesting a girl for years is in custody.

Joseph M. Abrams Jr., 38, no fixed address, faces 40 felony and misdemeanor sex-related charges stemming from the alleged abuse of the girl, abuse police said occurred in the city, South Fork in Cambria County, and Moon Township in Allegheny County, where Abrams was stationed in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.

According to the affidavit of probable causes filed in the cases, the girl told a state police investigator in December 2013, when she was 16, the alleged abuse began as a game.

When the girl was 9 years old, Abrams began playing a game he called “bonding moments” with the child, a game that involved Abrams kissing the girl on the neck and other parts of her body. At one point, he asked her if he could “kiss the bad parts,” the girl told police.

She told him yes, telling state police, “I regret it until this day.”

Altoona police note the abuse became progressively worse as the girl grew older, and Abrams renamed the game “connections.”

It started with Abrams kissing the girl while she was partially clothed and eventually moved on to forcing the girl to masturbate for him while he also masturbated.

Two days after the girl turned 13, Abrams allegedly had sex with the girl, despite her protests, according to police. In 2010, when the girl was 13, Abrams was sent to Iraq, and in 2012 he was sent to Afghanistan, police noted. The girl claimed abuse occurred at a hotel and another address in Moon Township during times Abrams was required to be at the base and also at a relative’s home in South Fork.

Police also suspect Abrams also molested the girl after he supplied her with prescription drugs, specifically Ambien and Xanax, as well as marijuana. The girl said the drugs, particularly the Ambien, caused her to not remember what would happen, but in several instances she said she awoke wearing less clothing than what she had on when she took the pill.

“I didn’t object because I didn’t want to remember,” the girl told police in December 2013, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

The girl also claimed she found pictures of herself, laying naked, on her phone that had allegedly had been taken by Abrams while she was drugged, pictures she told police she then erased.

The alleged abuse continued until the girl told her mother in January 2013, police said.

Abrams, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, appeared in handcuffs Monday afternoon before Magisterial District Judge Todd Kelly for his arraignment on charges in Blair and Allegheny counties. Kelly noted charges from Cambria County are still pending, and Abrams would likely be arraigned on that case when he is due next on court on Aug. 6.

Abrams told Kelly he was currently separated from his wife and has no children and had no fixed address apart from an Altoona P.O. box. Abrams said he worked for a temp agency at PGW in Tipton and stayed with various friends, most recently in Gallitzin. Abrams said he had hired Ebensburg-based attorney Robert J. Freeman, and a call to Freeman’s law office was not returned Monday.

Altoona police detective Cpl. Nichole Douglas told Kelly that while Abrams has no criminal history, his lack of a permanent address was concern enough to request a high cash bail. Douglas also pointed out that when police arrested Abrams on Monday, they found he was staying in a home that had a 15-year-old girl living there, as was Abrams’ 18-year-old girlfriend.

“I’ll be here,” Abrams said before nodding at the pile of charges on the table in front of him. “This stuff here is ridiculous. I’ll be here with bells on.”