Two face trial in Canton assault case

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Two Washington residents have been ordered to stand trial on charges alleging their involvement in the brutal assault of a 23-year-old woman at a Canton Township home in April.


Joseph Edwin Plovic Jr., 30, and Jennifer S. Conley, 30, both of 1286 Sycamore St., were ordered held for court Wednesday following a preliminary hearing in Central Court before District Judge Jay Weller. Both are charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, intimidation of a witness, indecent assault and simple assault. Plovic also is charged with aggravated assault and terroristic threats.


The two, along with Nicole Kass, 24, and Ronald Robert Osko, 21, are accused of assaulting the woman inside the home shared by Kass and Osko at 128 Charles St. Kass and Osko were arrested the day after the alleged April 2 assault and are awaiting trial on charges including aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and unlawful restraint.


The 23-year-old, who testified she has Tourette’s syndrome and attention deficit disorder, said she had gone to the Canton home after leaving the home of Plovic and Conley because those two were fighting. Plovic and Conley claimed she left after stealing compact discs from their home. They reportedly followed her to the Canton home.


She told police Conley threw the first punch, which knocked her into a coffee table. She went on to describe the attack, testifying she was beaten and kicked about her body and head. She said she drifted in and out of consciousness.


At one point, she said she was hog-tied by one or both of the men. She also said they put out cigarettes on her body as if it were an ashtray. The assault lasted for several hours, she said, starting around midnight and continuing until sunrise. She said Plovic pistol-whipped her several times and stomped on her head.


The alleged victim initially implicated only Kass and Osko but told Trooper Thomas Kress in May that Plovic and Conley also were involved.


Initially, she reportedly told Kress Plovic and Conley tried to help her, but she testified she was afraid of Plovic and Conley and admitted her recollection of the assault was cloudy in the days immediately afterward.


“I started putting bits and pieces together,” she said.


A staff member at a halfway house where she was staying also asked her if others were involved in the assault and told her to tell the rest of the story.


Kress saw the 23-year-old at UPMC-Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh, where she was taken after receiving initial treatment at Washington Hospital. Kress said her head had been partially shaven, her face was severely beaten and her eyes were nearly swollen shut. There also were injuries to her private areas and ligature marks on her wrists and feet, where she had been bound, he added. The trooper also described writings on the victim, including racial slurs and what appeared to be a swastika. There also were burn marks from the cigarettes, he said.


Defense attorneys Renee Colbert and Amanda Como asked for the charges to be dismissed, saying the victim’s story was inconsistent. Assistant District Attorney Traci McDonald countered Plovic and Conley were present when the 23-year-old was kicked and sodomized, and that they had threatened her if she said anything about the assault.


“I found her to be a credible young lady,” Weller said. “I find this nothing short of being brutally tortured. Just because she didn’t see who did what, at what point, isn’t a factor.”


Weller denied requests by the defense to reduce the bonds for their clients, instead increasing the bonds from $50,000 to $100,000.


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