November 18, 2005

Witness: Girls told her they'd been molested

Philadelphia Daily News


Yvette Odom's friend had barely moved into Odom's house with five of her children when Odom heard allegations of sexual abuse against the director of a gospel group in which the women sang.

The first night the family moved in, Odom's friend's teenage daughter came to the kitchen and told the two women that choir director Otis Joseph had molested her, Odom said yesterday in Common Pleas Court.

The 17-year-old "said that Otis had come downstairs to her bedroom" when the family still lived in his West Oak Lane home, said Odom. The teen said Joseph had climbed into bed with her and "tried to engage her in a sexual act," Odom testified at Joseph's trial on charges of sexually assaulting that girl and two of her sisters between August and October 2003.

"[She] was upset. She just kept saying, 'I don't believe it. I'm just glad to be out of there,' " said Odom, who, with her husband, took in the friend and her children for a few weeks in fall 2003, after they had left Joseph's house.

Later, Odom said, a younger daughter interrupted a phone conversation between the two women with more bad news: "Mommy, Otis did this [abused her] to me."

The Daily News is withholding the names of the three sisters and their mother because the newspaper does not identify the alleged victims of sex crimes.

Joseph, 29, once a rising star in gospel-music circles in the city, was dismissed as choir director at West Oak Lane Church of God and later at Bright Hope Baptist Church, as sexual-abuse allegations began to surface.

Posted by kshaw at November 18, 2005 09:21 AM