By Jennifer Van Doren | Philadelphia Inquirer
Several hours after Edward Joseph Leidy admitted that he molested four preteen boys throughout his career as a Civil Air Patrol captain and Boy Scout leader, a Bucks County jury convicted him yesterday of raping the only former cadet to press charges.
Leidy, 48, of Phoenixville, showed no emotion as the guilty verdicts on charges of rape and involuntary deviant sexual intercourse were read, his bail was revoked, and he was led away in handcuffs. Jurors deliberated for less than an hour. Sentencing was deferred for a psychological evaluation; Leidy could face 10 to 20 years in state prison.
Leidy’s witness-stand confessions even surprised his own attorney, who said he plans an appeal. Leidy maintains that he did not assault the former cadet who brought the charges, nor five other men who also testified that he molested them.
The victim who pressed charges was an 11-year-old Civil Air Patrol cadet in 1985 when Leidy’s assaults began at his remote Upper Bucks County farmhouse and progressed from fondling to oral sex and to sodomy. As the verdicts were read, the man, now 23, embraced his tearful family, who crowded the courtroom’s front row.
“I’m just so happy,” said the man, a newlywed, who now lives in Maryland.
The three-day trial brought dramatic testimony from nine male witnesses who said Leidy molested them at the farmhouse outside of Quakertown, in his truck, or at campgrounds. Some of the allegations dated as far back as the 1970s, and one was as recent as last year, from a 13-year-old.
Leidy testified that he was involved with the Civil Air Patrol, a civilian auxiliary of the Air Force, for more than 30 years, and with Boy Scout troops for the last 10.
Gerald Mandlowitz, Leidy’s attorney, argued that allowing the other men to testify was unnecessary, unfair and prejudicial. Bucks County Court Judge Edward G. Biester instructed jurors several times that the testimony from the nine other men could only be used to show a common scheme, plan, design or motive in Leidy’s conduct.
Leidy faced charges involving only the 23-year-old former cadet, because the statute of limitations for the other cases had expired, or the crimes occurred outside Bucks’ jurisdiction, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Terry Houck. Charges in such cases can be prosecuted within five years of the victim’s 18th birthday.
One of the men that Leidy admitted molesting testified that when he was a 12-year-old cadet in the mid-1980s, Leidy fondled him, performed oral sex, and molested him in the shower. Another man, who also said Leidy molested him during that same time, said Leidy tried to rape him. A third testified that Leidy assaulted him at a New Jersey Boy Scout camp in 1972. The fourth molestation that Leidy admitted to was a boy whose name he could not remember. Leidy said none of the molestation’s ever progressed beyond fondling.
He faces related charges in this case in Berks County and could face other charges from two teens who testified about recent assaults in Chester County.