Former Punxsy Man to Appear in Court Tomorrow on Charges for Choking, Hitting Children

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (EYT) — A former Punxsutawney man is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday after a state police investigation revealed years of alleged abuse of two children and a woman.

According to court documents, 36-year-old Dana James Cessna, of Creekside, faces a preliminary hearing at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 4, on the following charges:

– Strangulation – Applying Pressure to Throat or Neck, Felony 2 (101 counts);
– Endangering Welfare of Children -Parent/Guardian/Other Commits Offense, Felony 3 (two counts);
– Simple Assault, Misdemeanor 1 (one count);
– Simple Assault, Misdemeanor 2 (50 counts); and
– Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Misdemeanor 2 (two counts).

According to a criminal complaint filed by Pa. State Police Trooper Derek Weaver, the incidents occurred at 536 Gresock Road in Young Township, between November 2013 and March 2017.

The criminal complaint indicates that Trooper Rex Hunter began an investigation on March 17, 2017, based on a Child Line incident that was occurring at 536 Gresock Road in Young Township involving Cessna and three victims that included a 10-year-old girl, a 14-year-old boy, and a 33-year-old woman.

When Trooper Hunter interviewed the 10-year-old girl, she reported that Cessna had choked her a month ago and had hit the 14-year-old boy and her in the past as well. She also said the same thing is happening to the 33-year-old woman, according to the complaint.

When Trooper Hunter spoke with the 14-year-old boy on March 17, he said Cessna had physically harmed him in the past with the most recent incident occurring about a month ago when Cessna kicked him, leaving a mark, the complaint indicates.

The boy also said he has witnessed Cessna physically abuse the girl and the woman in the past and that Cessna has choked him in the past as well as the girl, including “choke slamming” her on to the couch, the complaint continues.

On March 20, Pat Berger, of the Jefferson County Child Advocacy Center, interviewed the 10-year-old girl. During the forensic interview, she related that the Cessna chokes, hits, and throws her and the 14-year-old boy who both reside there. This has happened four or five times to her, and she is unaware how many times that it occurred to the boy, the complaint states.

When Cessna chokes her, she cannot breathe, and her neck turns red afterward. The girl also said Cessna makes “meth” inside the residence in the basement and she has witnessed this at least seven times. The drugs that she has observed look like crushed glass, the complaint continues.

On December 2, the 33-year-old woman was interviewed by Trooper Weaver, of PSP-Punxsutawney.

The criminal complaint states that she gave the following statement:

She resides at a new location along with the 14-year-old boy while the 10-year-old girl is currently in protective custody. She is scared for her life and for the boy because of Cessna. She indicated that the boy is a high-functioning autistic and protects Cessna due to him not knowing any better.

The woman also stated that Cessna does not reside with her but he comes and goes as he pleases. She confirmed both statements by the children but had much to add.

She related that everything started in November 2013 when she met Cessna, shortly after they both began their drug usage and the abuse began in July of 2014.

In November of 2016, the woman stated that Cessna began to “cook” methamphetamine in the basement of the residence at 536 Gresock Road, Punxsutawney, Pa. about three times a month and continued until she moved out in March of 2016. The woman said Cessna was previously using the drug but did not know how to make it.

She also said she did not witness Cessna get physical with the girl, but he was very physical with herself and the boy. He often struck the boy in the ribs, back, and scrotum. She observed bruises on the boy, and she would experience bruising on herself from Cessna. The woman also said she saw Cessna choke the boy and that he would choke her approximately one time per week throughout each year.

Trooper Weaver asked the woman about how many times he had choked her, and she related that there were so many times, but indicated about 50 times each year, but that would probably be a low number, and she indicated that the amount of time would be the same for the boy, referring to Cessna choking them.

According to the complaint, Trooper Hunter interviewed Cessna, and he claimed he never made or used drugs. He admitted he may have gotten too rough with the children, but he never meant to harm them; however, he did admit to “choke slamming” the 10-year-old girl but made sure she landed on the couch, so she didn’t get hurt.

Cessna remains lodged in the Jefferson County Jail on $150,000.00 cash bail.

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