Exeter man, 70, sentenced to prison for unlawful child contact

Jul. 2—WILKES-BARRE — An Exeter man’s severe health issues was not enough to keep him out of prison for exposing himself and sending lewd pictures and sexual chat messages to a girl.

Luzerne County Judge David W. Lupas sentenced Griffith Elias, 70, of Birchwood Estates, to four-to-20 months at the county correctional facility on a charge of unlawful contact with a minor. Elias pled guilty to the charge April 3.

Elias was also sentenced to 18 months probation and mandated to register his address as a sex offender for 25 years under the state’s Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act.

Elias’ attorney, Michael Butera, sought house arrest with probation as Elias suffers from severe health issues and takes numerous medications. Elias also cares for, Butera said, a sister stricken with cancer.

Assistant District Attorney Maria McCuskey argued for time in prison advising Lupas that the girl’s father was opposed to probation.

Lupas said anything less than a sentence that did not involve incarceration would diminish the offense.

Elias was charged by Wyoming Area Regional Police in August 2023, after investigating a complaint that he was intentionally exposing himself to a girl and sending the child inappropriate chat messages, according to court records.

Court records say Elias would encourage the girl to walk past his house trailer where he would expose himself to her. Elias also sent lewd pictures of himself to the girl including sexual type chats on a social media app, court records say.

Detectives with the district attorney’s office assisted in the investigation.

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