HOLLIDAYSBURG - Tabatha A. Partsch, the 39-year-old Claysburg woman charged with sexual offenses against several children, has waived a preliminary hearing, sending the cases against her to the Blair County Court of Common Pleas for trial.
Blair County Judge Elizabeth Doyle was asked in September to permit the alleged victims to testify by video rather than taking the witness stand in the courtroom.
Assistant District Attorney Dan Kiss said the children would be traumatized by having to sit in the presence of their alleged abuser.
Because Partsch waived her hearing late last week before Magisterial District Judge Craig Ormsby, Doyle will not be required to make a decision on the proposed video testimony, which has been used sparingly in Blair County despite a large number of child abuse cases.
Kiss said that issue is not dead.
If Partsch chooses to go to trial before a jury, Kiss said he will file another petition to have the children tell their stories by video rather than face-to-face with Partsch.
He said a new petition will be required for the trial in the county court because the issues are slightly different than they would be in a preliminary hearing in which a magisterial judge decides if there is enough evidence to send the charges to trial.
The question for the judge in Common Pleas Court would be the possible effect of video testimony - as opposed to in-court testimony - on a panel of jurors.
Doyle was to hear testimony late last week from several parents of the alleged victims as to the effect it would have on their children if they are required to testify in the courtroom.
It is difficult to predict when Partsch's trial will be held, Kiss said, but he suggested the earliest date would probably be sometime in the spring.
Partsch is represented by Public Defender James R. DiFrancesco. The trial date will likely be affected by the number and complexity of the pretrial issues raised by the defense attorneys.
Police have charged Partsch with four sets of offenses that include 41 counts.
They include offenses as serious as rape of a child, aggravated indecent assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, to lesser offenses of showing children pornographic material and providing them with alcohol and tobacco.
The charges emanate from events at Partsch's Claysburg home dating back to Sept. 1, 2011.
Partsch's husband, Patrick, 33, is facing charges of rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, sexual assault, indecent assault of a child under 13 and statutory sexual assault. He waived his preliminary hearing in late August.
He is represented by court-appointed attorney Douglas Keating.