Preliminary hearing held in rape case

September 26, 2013
John Robert Lohr is escorted out of a preliminary hearing on numerous sex-related charges at the office of Greene County Magisterial District Judge Lee Watson Thursday. - Tara Kinsell / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

CARMICHAELS – A Cumberland Township man accused of raping a young boy in his care will stand trial on numerous sex-related charges, Greene County Magisterial District Judge Lee Watson ruled Thursday.

Charges against John Robert Lohr, 56, of 671 Ceylon Road, Carmichaels, were held over for court following a preliminary hearing. A request by Lohr’s attorney, Harry Cancelmi, to reduce the bail was denied by Watson. Lohr is currently being held in Greene County Prison on $750,000 straight bond.

He was charged Aug. 22 in Watson’s court with rape by forcible compulsion, two counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, corruption of minors when the defendant is 18 years of age or older and indecent assault by forcible compulsion.

The young boy that Lohr is alleged to have assaulted told the court he “always refused,” and fought with Lohr on several occasions. He said he eventually quit fighting him physically but always told him no. He said he “was hoping it would stop,” but he “knew there no stopping him.”

The boy described Lohr as a heavy daily drinker and said it was while he was very intoxicated that Lohr first started to sexually assault him Oct. 24, 2009. The next instance came about a month later, he told the court. After that, he said it escalated to at least once a week until Aug. 14, 2013. On some of those occasions, a knife was used in a threatening manner, the boy said. In one instance he said Lohr told him he had a gun and he would kill him if he didn’t cooperate. The boy said the acts occurred late at night and into the early morning hours.

He told the court the incidents took place in Lohr’s residence, in public restrooms and at various locations at the Big Bear Lake Campgrounds in Bruceton Mills, W.Va.

Lohr is a former member of the advisory board for Greene County Children and Youth Services, that placed the boy in his care. He was suspended from the board at the September meeting of the Greene County commissioners.

Police were first notified about the alleged sexual acts Aug. 18 at the state police barracks in Waynesburg.

When confronted by family members with the allegations that same day, Lohr asked them to give him an hour before police were called and fled in a family vehicle. When he was missing for 24 hours, concerned that he may try to harm himself, Lohr’s family called 911. He was found Aug. 19 in Fayette County inside the vehicle at Ohiopyle State Park by park rangers.

A state police trooper said Lohr ran a hose from the tailpipe into the vehicle in an attempt to commit suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. He was flown to UPMC-Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh, where he recovered from the attempt. Several days later, he was sent to the behavioral medicine unit at Fairmont General Hospital in Fairmont, W.Va., where West Virginia authorities would eventually arrest him Aug. 29 as a pre-trial felon. He was extradited to Pennsylvania Sept. 11.

Tara Kinsell started her career in journalism with the National Geographic Insider Magazine and the Gaithersburg Gazette Newspaper in Montgomery County, Md. Tara has written and photographed sports, features and news stories for the Herald Standard, Greene County Messenger and Albert Gallatin Weekly. She holds degrees in journalism and graphic design from Waynesburg College, now Waynesburg University, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, respectively.

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