Former TL Photographer Blames ‘itch’ For Awkward Encounter
WILKES-BARRE — Former Times Leader photographer Clark Van Orden took the stand Wednesday and denied ever exposing himself while on assignment — but acknowledged a business owner became uncomfortable when he touched his groin in her presence.
Van Orden, 68, is on trial on indecent exposure charges alleging he exposed his penis to the female owner of the Plymouth Flea Market on Dec. 10, 2016. Testifying in his own defense, Van Orden briefly choked up when asked if he exposed himself to Nancy McEntee.
“No, I didn’t,” he said.
Van Orden described having been seated at a table with McEntee while waiting for a reporter to show up for a story about the flea market. When he eventually stood up, he said he was “not thinking” when he pulled at his crotch, leading McEntee to get upset.
“I said, ‘I’m sorry. I had an itch,’” Van Orden testified.
McEntee then directed him to leave and he complied, he said.
The testimony was substantially different from that of McEntee, who claimed Van Orden exposed himself and then stood standing silently with a “strange look” on his face.
“I was shocked and stunned,” McEntee said during questioning by Assistant District Attorney Angela Sperrazza. “I couldn’t believe it. I just wanted him to go. I wanted him to leave.”
Defense attorney Joseph F. Sklarosky Sr. grilled McEntee on cross-examination, pointing out seeming contradictions in her accounts of the incident. He noted that in a written statement McEntee indicated she and Van Orden had been alone at the table, although she also told police another unidentified woman had been present.
She was also unable to provide the names of customers who she claims Van Orden bumped into in his haste to leave the premises.
“Was he circumcised?” Sklarosky asked.
“How do I know?” McEntee said. “I didn’t look that long.”
McEntee testified after the alleged encounter, she hired an attorney because she “needed a lawyer to defend me” but said she never filed a lawsuit and never reached a settlement with the Times Leader.
The defense alleges McEntee and her husband were trying to “shakedown” the newspaper because their business was struggling. During his testimony, Van Orden said Pat McEntee had spoken about needing more vendors and about his concern over the cost of heating the former Fainberg’s Furniture Store.
“You don’t need money?” Sklarosky asked Nancy McEntee.
“No,” she said.
“Why don’t you pay your taxes then?” Sklarosky asked, prompting a sidebar discussion between the lawyers and Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough.
“Let’s not get personal,” McEntee responded.
Both the prosecution and defense rested Wednesday morning, but Vough released the jury early because of inclement weather. Closing arguments are set to begin this morning.
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