Reading Man Convicted on Multiple Charges of Child Sexual Abuse in Lancaster County

Joel VillarrealJoel Villarreal /Submitted Image

LANCASTER, PA — Joel Villarreal, a 44-year-old man from Reading, Pennsylvania, was convicted last Thursday on 12 charges related to the sexual abuse of a juvenile in Lancaster County. The jury found Villarreal guilty of several grave offenses, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, forcible compulsion, indecent assault of a person less than 13 years old, endangering the welfare of children, unlawful contact with a minor, and corruption of minors.

The case, prosecuted by First Deputy District Attorney Cody Wade, unfolded over a two-day trial before Lancaster County Judge Thomas Sponaugle. Throughout the proceedings, evidence and testimony painted a harrowing picture of the abuse suffered by the victim, who was between 7 and 9 years old at the time of the incidents, which occurred between 2018 and 2020 at two different residences in Lancaster city.

In his closing remarks, Wade commended the young victim’s bravery for testifying against Villarreal, emphasizing her courage in coming forward to recount the abuse. The jury deliberated for an hour before returning the guilty verdicts, signaling a swift decision in a case that underscores the serious nature of the crimes committed.

The investigation into Villarreal began on May 5, 2022, following a referral from the Lancaster County Children and Youth Agency to the Lancaster City Bureau of Police about inappropriate sexual contact between Villarreal and the child. A forensic interview conducted a week later with the victim at the Lancaster County Children’s Alliance revealed the extent of the abuse, which occurred while Villarreal was in a caretaking position over the child.

Lancaster City Bureau of Police Detective Ryan Hockley played a key role in the investigation, filing the charges against Villarreal and providing crucial testimony during the trial.

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