Franklin man accused of having unlawful contact with 2 girls

A Franklin man is facing felony charges for having inappropriate contact with two young girls on several occasions as far back as 2012.

Franklin state police said Ralph Leroy Shields, 57, would touch the girls – now 16 and 10 – on their thighs and chests while sitting behind them on ATV rides on his property along Shaffer Run Road in Reno.

In addition to groping the girls on the ATV, a criminal complaint described other incidents that began when the older of the two girls was 7 or 8 years old.

The girl told police that during that incident, Shields – the girl’s step-grandfather – had taken her to his Reno property she referred to as “camp” where he kept a tow-behind trailer, the complaint said.

Shields told the girl to lie down on the bed with him, and he then produced a bag of “sex toys”, according to the complaint. Shields touched the girl with the toys over her pants, all while the girl said “no” and began to cry, the complaint said.

Shields told the girl, “I’m sorry, I’ll just take you home now. Just don’t tell anybody this will get me in trouble,” the complaint said.

The girl told police the next incident occurred when she was 14 and helping Shields with housework in his 13th Street apartment in Franklin. The complaint said Shields walked up behind her and touched her breasts.

The girl told police she “freaked out,” on Shields who told her “I am sorry, I just can’t help myself when I am around you,” the complaint said.

Shields also told the girl, “I know you can be a bad girl, I’m just messed up in the head and I can’t help it,” the complaint said.

Shields tried similar acts with the girl’s 10-year-old cousin beginning with an attempt at his camper during which Shields forcibly pushed her to the couch and tried to take her pants off, the complaint said.

After the incident, according to the complaint, Shields told the girl, “I will buy you anything you want if you don’t tell anyone what happened.”

Shields is charged with felony counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child and aggravated indecent assault of a child, four felony counts each of unlawful contact with minor-sexual offenses and corruption of minors-defendant age 18 or above, and two misdemeanor counts each of indecent assault person less than 13 and indecent assault person less than 16.

Shields was arraigned and remains lodged in the Venango County jail after failing to post $75,000 bail.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled May 27 in Central Court.