Lehigh Valley

Police charge 80-year-old with child rape

Authorities allege he attacked 2 girls in his care

EASTON, Pa. - An 80-year-old Phillipsburg man stands accused of sexually assaulting two children in his care for about two years.

Easton police charged Austin R. Strouse with two counts each of rape, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, child endangerment, corruption of minors and indecent assault of person younger than 13 in connection with the attacks that allegedly happened nearly a decade ago. District Judge Antonia Grifo arraigned Strouse Tuesday morning, setting bail at $50,000.

The judge allowed for a 10 percent cash option, if approved by the Northampton County pre-trial services.

Investigators allege the attacks took place between 2009 and 2011, while Strouse lived in Easton.

The Northampton County Department of Human Services reported two suspected cases of child abuse to Easton police in April. Officials said the victims were 6 and 8 at the time of the alleged attacks.

A detective interviewed the victims along with a county case worker in May. Authorities said the victims were known to Strouse.

The victims told investigators that Strouse allegedly sexually assaulted them while in his care before they went to school and during the summer, according to court records. They also alleged he exposed himself several times.

One victim reported waking up one day to find Strouse on top of her, according to records.

The detective interviewed Strouse two days after speaking with the victims, and he allegedly admitted to repeatedly assaulting his victims. He said he was 73 years old when the attacks began.

Strouse, of South Main Street in Phillipsburg, failed to post bail and was sent to Northampton County Prison to await a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 7.

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