Megan’s Law offender accused of trying to lure children

From staff reports

An Oil City man is facing charges after he allegedly tried to lure five children ages 10-14 into a vehicle between Aug. 23 and Aug. 24 at the intersection of Wilson Avenue and East Second Street.

A criminal complaint filed through district judge Matthew Kirtland’s office said Oil City police responded to the 100 block of Wilson Avenue and spoke with three children and their caregiver.

The children said that three weeks earlier, an older man with gray hair and glasses was driving a dark-colored SUV and approached them at the intersection of Wilson and East Second.

The man tried to get the children into his vehicle by saying he knew their parents, but the children refused. They said they continued to play outside while he remained in the area, the complaint said.

The male caregiver told police he accessed the Megan’s Law website and found an image of Craig Ralph, 56, whom the children recognized, the complaint said.

Police then traveled to an address on East Third Street where two other children reported a similar incident.

A 14-year-old girl told police that an older man had been asking for directions and demanded the children get into his vehicle to show him where to drive. The girl said she told the man to leave, and he eventually did, the complaint said.

Both children positively identified Ralph in a photo provided by police, the complaint said.

Police then contacted Ralph, who agreed to go to the Oil City Police Department. An interview was conducted, during which time Ralph denied the allegations and any involvement with the children, the complaint said.

Ralph is facing five felony counts of luring a child into a motor vehicle.

He was arraigned before Kirtland and placed in the Venango County jail on $25,000 bail.

A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 26 in Central Court.