LISBON - Their descriptions of the man and his van may not have been identical, but two years later five Salem teens testified Wednesday in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court about their alleged encounters with Joseph Kalbfell.
Kalbfell, 54, Olive Street, Salem, is charged with one count of importuning for allegedly asking a then 12-year-old boy to allow Kalbfell to perform oral sex on him.
Additionally during a two-day period in September 2010, testimony indicates Kalbfell may have approached four other youngsters - three girls and another boy -and made comments about how nice the rear of their bodies looked. He allegedly yelled these comments from the driver's seat of his van, which was described differently by the children, who at times just after the incident and in court referred to it as gray, grayish purple, purplish-gray and even bluish.
The now 14-year-old boy the importuning charge relates to testified first. He claimed he was pushing his bicycle with a flat tire in the area of Pershing Street and Ohio Avenue on Sept. 2, when Kalbfell stopped for a red light in his van, made a comment about how nice his rear looked. The boy said he responded by calling Kalbfell a derogatory name for a homosexual. He testified Kalbfell admitted he was gay and made the offer to perform oral sex. Again the boy reportedly called him the derogatory name and Kalbfell reportedly drove away.
The boy testified he called his mother's boyfriend, who agreed to meet him at the Reilly stadium parking lot on East Pershing Street. While there, the boy testified he saw the van and he saw Salem patrolman David Banner. He told Banner what had
happened and pointed out the van, which he described in court as grayish color, loud, an older model, with a right or left tail light out.
Banner later testified he stopped the van, which he confirmed had a right tail light out and talked to Kalbfell about the accusations, which he denied. While the boy testified Banner asked him to ride by on his bike to see if it was the same man in the van, Banner testified the boy did that on his own.
When he was later questioned by Detective David Talbert, Kalbfell tried to indicate the boy had asked him for a cigarette and he knew he was underage. Kalbfell told investigators he believed the boy was telling this story to get back at him for refusing to give him the cigarette.
"I should've given the underage boy a cigarette is what I should have done," Kalbfell said in a taped statement from the day he was charged, which was played in court on Wednesday. "I'd rather be arrested for that than what he accused me of."
During his testimony, the now 14-year-old boy said he did not smoke at the time Kalbfell approached him, but admitted he does smoke now. He denied at that time using alcohol or drugs, other than those he needed to take at the time for his Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and ODD, which he could not explain to defense attorney Jennifer Gorby. ODD stands for Oppositional Defiant Disorder. He admitted he also has used alcohol in the past two years.
When asked by Gorby about whether he would lie or make up the story in revenge for the man refusing to give him a cigarette, the boy denied it.
"No, that's absurd," he said. "It's not worth someone going to jail over it."
Gorby also asked the boy about other sexual accusations he was involved in making 18 months later in an unrelated matter. He denied making up that story, but did admit not going for an evaluation when investigators requested him to do so.
At several points when he had been questioned by investigators, Kalbfell had asked them why, if he was accused of approaching the children on Sept. 1 and Sept. 2, he was not arrested until Sept. 3. Talbert said after conferring with the prosecutor's office on the morning of Sept. 3, Kalbfell was in custody and charged by afternoon.
The first girl he was accused of approaching and her mother both testified after the boy. The mother claimed her then 12-year-old daughter was upset after the man drove up on Sept. 1 and made the comment about her rear. She had called her mother upset about what happened and her mother had picked her up.
"She said he was creepy looking," the mother testified, "kind of bald and it scared her so much."
Because the girl was afraid, the mother also drove her daughter to and from school the next day and while they were at Reilly Elementary picking up the 12-year-old's sister, that was when the girl spotted the van again. The girl had put the license plate number into her cellphone and they had called police. The license plate number matched Kalbfell's.
The girl, who is also now 14, testified she also saw Kalbfell once in Walmart, there with a girl with disabilities.
"I looked over at him and he stared at me," she said.
She also testified about the boy who made the accusation, claiming he hangs out with some bad boys and has lied to her in the past. She said she has also noticed him in an alley where a group hangs out to do drugs, but believed she only saw him actually doing drugs once. She said that was a long time ago, before these things happened.
Two other girls, then ages 13 and 14, who are friends and had walked home together testified next about the man in the van. They claimed he also approached them both on Sept. 1 and Sept 2. In both cases, he reportedly made comments about their rears. One girl testified he also commented about their chests. The same girl testified she told her father the first day, but it was not until it happened the second day that they called police.
The other friend testified she had yelled "pervert," at him while he drove past. During those two instances, the van did not stop and in both cases Gorby asked the girls if they were sure they could identify him with that short of a look at him.
Both of those girls said they did not know the boy making the accusation leading to the importuning charge well enough to know if he tells the truth, although one said she did date him for about a week sometime after the incidents happened.
Finally, another 14-year-old boy testified he was also approached by the man on Sept. 2 when he was 12, while he was riding home from school on his skateboard. After the comment was made about his rear, the boy claimed he was so shook up he asked two girls nearby if he could walk with them for a while. Then when he saw a friend of his mother's near Reilly Elementary he asked her for a ride home. He testified he also saw the van again, driving in the opposite direction.
He also testified he knows the other boy and has been friends with him at some point, but he can be both a good friend and a bad friend. He said he did not know about how trustworthy he would be.
After the state concluded its case, Gorby brought one witness before the end of the day. Frank Ieropoli, the owner of Lisbon Auto Repair testified about an invoice for a new muffler installed by his business on Dec. 7, 2010 on a 1998 Plymouth Voyager, the same type of van Kalbfell drove. There is no name on the invoice and Ieropoli said he does not do the repair work himself, so he was unable to testify about the van or the condition of the muffler which prompted the work.
McNicol has filed a motion to quash subpoenas issued by Gorby to employees of Jobs and Family Services and a motion in limine, which would prevent the disclosure of the first 12-year-old boy's past counseling. Washam has not ruled on the motions yet, but is expected to do so before testimony is scheduled to continue on Oct. 23.