A registered “lifetime sex offender” was ordered to stand trial after a 12-year-old girl testified Tuesday at a preliminary hearing that he offered her $200 to have sex with him in the parking lot of the South Bethlehem McDonald’s on Nov. 3, according to The Express-Times.
Joseph Frank Gering, 63, was ordered to stand trial on charges of prostitution, promoting prostitution, corruption of minors, criminal solicitation and drunk driving by District Judge Nancy Matos Gonzalez.
Matos-Gonzalez threw out other charges relating to a second victim, a 16-year-old girl who did not attend the hearing. Those charges may be re-filed.
The criminal complaint against Gering lists his address as 105 N. Fifth St. in Emmaus, which is the Emmaus Post Office where Gering has a post office box.
The Megan’s Law website, where Gering is registered as an offender, lists his primary residence as 1701 Catasauqua Road, Hanover Township, Lehigh County – The Scottish Inn & Suites.
Gering currently resides at Northampton County Prison, where he is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail.
According to court papers, the two girls got into Gering’s SUV after he pulled into the restaurant parking lot at 442 Wyandotte St. The older girl left the vehicle after Gering offered the girls $100 “to hang out with him,” the records say.
But the 12-year-old stayed and Gering offered her $200 for sex. She said no.
According to the records, Gering told her, “I want to have sex with you, you’re beautiful.”
The criminal complaint also says the following:
- The girls approached Gering’s SUV, spoke with him, then got in. The 16-year-old told police he offered to take them through the drive-thru and buy them any menu item they wanted. She said he then offered the girls $100 “to hang out with him.”
- The 16-year-old did not like the offer and got out of the SUV. The 12-year-old stayed. The older girl approached a person for help because the other girl was still in the SUV. The complaint does not say if the person she approached was a restaurant employee, a patron or someone else.
- The 12-year-old told police she stayed because she wanted some food. But she told police she did not like Gering’s offer about sex and eventually got out of the SUV.
- Gering later told arresting Officer Ian Kiesselbach that he drank “about eight beers” before driving to the McDonald’s. The officer said Gering smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech and red, bloodshot and glassy eyes.
- Another Bethlehem officer had Gering perform field sobriety tests. The officer later told Kiesselbach that Gering was “not capable of driving a motor vehicle safely.”