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Former TL Photog Not Guilty In Exposure Case

February 21, 2019
Former TL Photog Not Guilty In Exposure Case

WILKES-BARRE — A former Times Leader photographer accused of exposing himself while on a photo shoot at a Plymouth business was found not guilty Thursday. A jury found Clark Van Orden, 68, not guilty of misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure and open lewdness after about 50 minutes of deliberations. Afterward, Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough found Van Orden not guilty on a summary count of disorderly conduct and released him, saying he had been exonerated. “Clark’s a good and decent man and I am convinced beyond all doubt that Clark didn’t do these things,” defense attorney Joseph F. Sklarosky Sr. said after the verdict. “This lady misinterpreted, I think, him reaching for his groin. ... He was scratching himself and she just took it the wrong way.” Prosecutors alleged Van Orden was on assignment at the Plymouth Flea Market on Dec. 10, 2016, when he exposed his penis to co-owner Nancy McEntee. Van Orden tesified in his own defense Wednesday that he had scratched an itch without thinking while in McEntee’s presence, but denied ever exposing himself. The defense maintained McEntee and her husband targeted Van Orden as part of an effort to “shakedown” the Times Leader for cash. McEntee declined to comment after the verdict. During closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Angela Sperrazza maintained McEntee’s testimony had been credible, and that the defense theory of a shakedown doesn’t hold up. She noted The Citizens’ Voice first reported a story about the flea market without incident. For the jury to buy into the shakedown theory, jurors would have to believe McEntee and her husband were “so cunning” they knew to immediately call 911 and that they specifically targeted Van Orden, who at the time was working as a freelancer for the Times Leader. “They didn’t pick anybody from The Citizens’ Voice. They didn’t pick the (Times Leader’s) reporter. They picked Clark,” Sperrazza said. “None of these things add up or make sense.” The prosecutor noted that the statute of limitations expired without the McEntees filing a lawsuit or reaching a settlement. She also downplayed the significance of McEntee not knowing if Van Orden is circumcised when she was quizzed by Sklarosky on Wednesday. “Nancy McEntee was shocked. She was uncomfortable,” Sperrazza said. “So no, she may not have taken the time to examine every part of his anatomy. But she saw a penis.” But during his closing, Sklarosky attacked McEntee’s credibility, arguing her version of events doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. “This case is going to rise or fall on credibility,” Sklarosky said. “The commonwealth has woefully not met their burden of proof in this case.” He noted Van Orden was wearing a name badge featuring his photo and his company name at the time of the incident, and that McEntee has provided varying accounts of whether another woman had been present at the table where Van Orden allegedly exposed himself. Although McEntee claimed Van Orden had bumped into people in his haste to leave, she made no effort to identify those people to back up her account, Sklarosky noted. Instead, McEntee “quickly hired a lawyer,” Sklarosky said. On the stand Wednesday, McEntee told the jury she retained counsel because she “needed a lawyer to defend me,” he reminded the jury. “Why would she say something like that?” Sklarosky asked. “She didn’t need any defending. She didn’t do anything wrong. Or did she?” Contact the writer: jhalpin@citizensvoice.com 570-821-2058