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Aliquippa assistant police chief faces felony charges for lewd texts

June 9, 2018 GMT

Aliquippa’s police department is dealing with more turmoil after Beaver County detectives arrested its assistant police chief Friday on charges he sent lewd text messages to a group that included a 17-year-old girl.

Joseph Perciavalle III, 43, is charged with disseminating explicit sexual material to a minor and unlawful contact with a minor, both felonies, as well as a misdemeanor charge of corruption of minors, court records show. He was released on $5,000 unsecured bond.

Perciavalle had been named Aliquippa’s acting police chief after Chief Don Couch was placed on administrative leave Wednesday for unspecified reasons. A third city officer, Sgt. Kenneth Watkins, was placed on paid leave following the May 13 murder of 33-year-old Rachael DelTondo because his 17-year-old daughter Lauren Watkins had been with DelTondo minutes before she was shot.

Mayor Dwan Walker did not return messages Friday seeking information about Perciavalle’s employment status. The city’s website says the department has 12 officers.

The charges filed Friday stemmed from a text message conversation last month that came to light after Lauren Watkins turned over her cellphone to Aliquippa police as part of the investigation into DelTondo’s murder.

The May 10 conversation began with a message from Perciavalle to Sgt. Kenneth Watkins, his wife Stephanie Watkins and their daughter.

Perciavalle was listed in the teen’s phone by the name Uncle Perc, according to the criminal complaint.

The message, sent about 6:30 p.m., contained a video of a woman of “indeterminate age” wearing high-heel boots, a dark top and no pants. She was on a park swing, urinating, the complaint said.

The teen never responded to the message, but her parents did.

“Wow,” Kenneth Watkins wrote. His wife allegedly responded by writing “perv,” and added, “My daughter is too young to see this.”

“She is 21,” Perciavalle allegedly responded. Stephanie Watkins wrote back, “17.”

The complaint said Perciavalle responded: “And it’s a girl taking a pee. Like a true Quip (Aliquippa) hoodrat.”

The cell phone containing the messages is one of several cellphones seized by police as part of their ongoing investigation into the murder of DelTondo, who was gunned down in her mother’s driveway shortly before 11 p.m.

Investigators have named no suspects in the killing.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.