From staff reports
Felony charges were filed Tuesday against a Jackson Township man who Franklin state police say fathered a child to a now 15-year-old girl and interfered with the custody of another.
Police said the investigation into Joseph Ron Greenberg, Jr., 39, and his relationship with the girl began when the girl’s mother approached police in April after the baby was born.
A complaint filed through District Judge Andrew Fish’s office said the mother told police she became suspicious of Greenberg after the mother of her daughter’s friend sent her screenshots of text messages sent between the two girls.
“Do you think it’s what’s-his-face’s baby,” a message sent from the friend asked the girl, to which the girl replied, “yeah,” the complaint said.
In a later police interview with the friend, police asked who she had been referring to as “what’s-his-face;” and the friend clarified she was speaking about “Joe,” the complaint said.
The complaint details several other messages between the two girls in which they discuss plans to run away in order to live at Greenberg’s residence, which the girls call “the farm.”
The mother told police her daughter “seems like she’s in love” with Greenberg – who is described in the complaint as a longtime friend of the family – and said Greenberg arrived at their residence shortly after the baby was born and had asked to hold the child, the complaint said.
The complaint said the girl spent a lot of time at Greenberg’s residence before she became pregnant and often spent the night.
DNA samples taken from Greenberg, the girl and the baby returned a paternity result of a 99.9% chance that Greenberg is the baby’s father, the complaint said.
Greenberg is charged with felony counts of statutory sexual assault- defendant 11 years or older than complainant, unlawful contact with a minor- sexual offenses, and corruption of minors- defendant age 18 or above.
In a related case, Greenberg faces charges for interfering in the custody of another young woman in April.
In a separate criminal complaint filed Tuesday, Franklin state police said the girl, now 15, ran away from her grandmother’s house.
The complaint said the girl left a note that said “she didn’t want to do this anymore and she was going to live ‘at the farm.'”
The girl’s mother later found her at Greenberg’s Beagle Club Road residence, the complaint said.
The girl’s mother told police she then went through the girl’s phone where she found messages pertaining to the other case, as well as messages sent between her daughter and Greenberg, the complaint said.
Greenberg tells the girl that her mother cannot “take her back” if she were to tell authorities that she felt unsafe, according to the complaint.
A message from Greenberg to the girl reads, “As long as you tell them you feel safe at the farm and want to be here, they won’t make you leave and we won’t be in trouble,” according to the complaint.
The complaint said when Greenberg was interviewed, he admitted to taking the girl to his residence after she messaged him that she wanted him to “come and get her.”
Greenberg said the girl did not say why she felt unsafe at her grandmother’s home, but said he knew of alleged abuse the girl had suffered in the past, the complaint said.
The complaint said Greenberg told police his intent was to keep the girl safe and believed he could “keep (the girl) for 24 hours before he would get in trouble.”
Greenberg never contacted anyone in the girl’s family or social services, and never had permission to take the girl to his house, the complaint said.
He is scheduled for preliminary hearings on July 15 before Fish in Venango County Central Court.
Greenberg was booked into the Venango County jail on both cases Tuesday with a combined $50,000 bail.