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Croydon Man Sentenced to 25 to 50 Years for Assaulting 2 Girls

February 12, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer Schorn, 215.348.6337, jmschorn@buckscounty.org

Joseph Gries
        Joseph Gries

A man convicted of repeatedly abusing two girls at his Bristol Township home by beating them and sexually assaulting one of them was sentenced Friday to serve 25 to 50 years in state prison.

“You engaged in physically, emotionally and sexually abusive behavior toward these children,” Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr. told Joseph Gries, calling the defendant’s actions “unspeakable.”

A Bucks County Common Pleas Court jury convicted Gries, 51, in absentia last September after he fled to California to avoid prosecution.

Gries was captured en route to the Mexican border and returned to Pennsylvania to face sentencing for involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault of a child, simple assault, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors.

One victim described being beaten so hard after being caught using a cell phone without permission that she urinated on herself. The other was sexually abused on multiple occasions by Gries, sometimes in front of other females in his house in the Croydon section of the township.

“What you did was extraordinarily cruel,” the judge said. “They should enjoy their adolescent years, (but) you degraded them, you humiliated them.”

The convictions were Gries’ first for sexual offenses, but the self-employed carpenter had an extensive record of burglaries and theft-related crimes in five states that dated to the 1980s.

Before sentencing Gries, Bateman accepted the recommendation of a state Sexual Offenders Assessment Board psychologist and declared Gries to be a sexually violent predator.

The psychologist, Eric Weinstein, reported that Gries suffers from a personality disorder characterized by antisocial, paranoid and sadistic characteristics, that he is highly likely to reoffend, and that his crimes were predatory in nature.

Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Schorn said that Gries’s crimes against the girls appeared to have gone on for four to five years before they were reported in 2015. She praised the girls for having “the courage and fortitude to come forward,” and the strength to testify against Gries.

“They are remarkable, smart, beautiful young women, and in my opinion the sky is the limit for them,” Schorn said, despite their having been “treated worse than most people’s family pets would be treated.”

Defense attorney Michael Applebaum attributed Gries’s cruelty to an abusive childhood, saying Gries had been “severely physically abused” by his father and lived in 36 foster homes beginning at age 13.

Gries told Bateman that he admits “mentally abusing the hell out of” the girls, but denied any severe beatings or sexual assaults. “They’re trying to paint me as some kind of freak here,” he said.

“I have no desire to be sexual with any kid,” he said, adding that he fled because “I didn’t want to come to trial for something I didn’t do.”

Bateman told Gries that his efforts to rationalize his crimes were “almost as unspeakable as your conduct,” and helped to reinforce his confidence in Weinstein’s conclusions about him.

Bateman sentenced Gries to serve 10 to 20 years for involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a victim under 16, five to 10 years for each of two counts of aggravated indecent assault, and two and one half to five years each for endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors.

Bateman ordered that the sentences run consecutively to one another, for a total sentence of 25 to 50 years.

The case was investigated by Detective Greg Beidler of the Bristol Township Police Department.

Approved for release by Gregg Shore, First Assistant District Attorney.

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