LIMA — A Lima man charged with gross sexual imposition for alleged unwanted sexual contact with minors, one of whom reportedly was under the age of 13, had his request for a reduction in his $100,000 bond denied during an arraignment hearing Thursday.
Joshua McPheron, 31, appeared briefly in Allen County Common Pleas Court and entered pleas of not guilty to one misdemeanor and two felony charges.
McPheron was indicted by a grand jury last month on a third-degree felony count of gross sexual imposition; a fourth-degree felony charge of gross sexual imposition; and a misdemeanor count of sexual imposition. All of the alleged victims are minors. The acts are said to have occurred between March and August of 2020.
McPheron was accompanied Thursday by Lima attorney Kenneth Rexford, who said he has been in regular contact with McPheron since August of last year when an investigation into the alleged incidents was initiated.
In a motion filed with the court late last month, Rexford sought a reduction in McPheron’s bond, acknowledging his client had previously been terminated from the Allen County Treatment Court “for trying to sneak an alcohol drink” and despite what the attorney called a “lengthy Lima Municipal Court record” that includes a failure to appear charge.
McPheron in 2017 pleaded guilty in Allen County Common Pleas Court to a third-degree felony count of attempted felonious assault and was sentenced to three years on probation.
During Thursday’s hearing Rexford said McPheron has had ample opportunity to flee the area if he so chose but has not done so. The attorney said his client poses minimal risk to the community and asked for a substantial reduction in his bond.
The mother of one of the alleged victims addressed Magistrate Destiny Caldwell, who was substituting for Judge Terri Kohlrieser, with an impassioned plea that McPheron’s bond remain at $100,000.
“My children are terrified of him,” the woman said. “To have children terrified of someone is not okay. I am 100% opposed to Joshua being out (of jail) on bond.”
Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Juergen Waldick said it came to light during the investigation that the alleged victims “were told by the defendant that if they revealed what was going on they would suffer physical harm at his hands.”
Waldick said McPheron’s bond should remain as originally set.
Caldwell denied the motion to reduce that bond and scheduled a pre-trial hearing for July 22 before Judge Jeffrey Reed.
McPheron reportedly has attained some level of celebrity as TheDadofTikTok, with more than 500,000 followers on the popular social media platform.
According to the website Distractify.com, McPheron made almost daily videos with jokes about everyday life and being a parent and posted them to TikTok. He uses many of the app’s popular sounds in his content to make his comedy content. The last video he posted to his account was on June 16.