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TL Photog Exposure Trial Opens With ‘shakedown’ Claim

February 19, 2019
TL Photog Exposure Trial Opens With 'shakedown' Claim

WILKES-BARRE — Attorneys on Tuesday asked a jury to decide whether a former Times Leader photographer exposed himself in a shocking crime — or if he is the merely the target of a shakedown by the owners of a struggling business.

Former Times Leader photographer Clark Van Orden, 68, is on trial on indecent exposure charges alleging he exposed his penis to the female owner of the Plymouth Flea Market in December 2016.

During opening statements Tuesday afternoon, Assistant District Attorney Angela Sperrazza told the jury of nine women and three men that the incident unsettled Nancy McEntee, who co-owns the flea market at 60 E. Main St. with her husband.

Sperrazza described the offense as “the kind of crime that makes you feel extremely uncomfortable.”

But defense attorney Joseph Sklarosky Sr. countered that the incident never happened at all. In fact, when Van Orden encountered the McEntees on Dec. 10, 2016, they made repeated comments about how they needed more vendors and how expensive it was to heat the former Fainberg’s Furniture Store, he said.

Van Orden — a longtime Times Leader staff member who was freelancing at the time — did sit and talk with Nancy McEntee for about an hour, but left after the reporter scheduled to do the story for the Times Leader failed to show up, he said.

“What was going on here was nothing but a shakedown,” Sklarosky said. “They were having problems — financial problems — with that building, and they were looking for a score. He was that score. ... This was a shakedown to get some money from the Times Leader, and they’re using this man.”

Nancy McEntee previously testified at a preliminary hearing that Van Orden grew “fidgety” while talking to her. She claimed to have turned to look and seen Van Orden’s zipper opened and “it was just there.”

When McEntee questioned what he was doing, Van Orden responded by saying, “I don’t know. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” she said. McEntee then asked him to leave because Van Orden was “just standing, staring at me,” she said.

Van Orden is charged with misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure and open lewdness, as well as a summary count of disorderly conduct.

The trial is expected to conclude this week.