Man charged with abusing 5 more boys Suspect, 74, owns Harney store

August 01, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

The 74-year-old owner of a Harney convenience store, already charged with fondling a 6-year-old customer, was indicted last week by a county grand jury on sexual abuse charges involving five other youngsters.

Luther I. Ridinger, owner of Ridinger's Store at Harney and Conover roads, faces four charges of attempted third-degree sexual offense, two counts of third-degree sexual of fense, four counts of battery, a count of fourth-degree sexual offense and one count of selling cigarettes to a minor stemming from the indictment, which was returned Friday morning.

Conviction on the charges could result in sentences totaling more than 60 years in state prison.

Kathleen Lynch, a child abuse investigator in the state's attorney's office, said that the merchant would fondle boys after they entered his store.

She began an investigation last month after the first of several people came forward with allegations. She said her investigation is continuing.

The indictments say that Mr. Ridinger -- who is still behind the counter at his store -- allegedly assaulted the boys on several occasions between 1986 and last month.

The youngsters ranged in ages from 2 to 15 years at the times they are said to have been assaulted.

Mr. Ridinger was arrested early last month by state police on four counts of assault and battery, six counts of third-degree sexual offense and one count of a fourth-degree sexual offense.

He posted $50,000 bond on those charges.

Ralph T. Uebersax, Mr. Ridinger's attorney, could not be reached for comment Friday.

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