COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The husband of a woman accused of suffocating her three sons has been charged with sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager and had been living in her house for years as her stepfather, according to an indictment made public Thursday.
The indictment in Logan County in western Ohio charged Joseph Pilkington with one count of sexual battery for an alleged assault in 2009 against Brittany Pilkington.
The indictment said Joseph Pilkington, 43, had lived in his future wife’s house since she was 9 and held himself out as her father. Brittany Pilkington’s mother has said she and Joseph Pilkington had been in a romantic relationship and she was not bothered when he took up with her daughter instead.
Joseph Pilkington was arrested in Newark in central Ohio on Thursday and was being held in Licking County Jail pending a hearing to determine if he’ll be transferred back to Logan County, which is likely. He didn’t yet appear to have a lawyer related to the criminal charge. A message seeking comment was left with an attorney who represented him in a custody fight with the county.
Brittany Pilkington, 23, has been charged with three counts of aggravated murder in her sons’ deaths and faces the possibility of a death sentence if convicted. She has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail on $1 million bond.
Logan County Prosecutor William Goslee said she killed the boys out of jealousy at the attention her husband was paying them. Goslee has called the husband a controlling person who left her isolated. A message was left with the prosecutor Thursday.
The Associated Press generally doesn’t name people who say they are victims of sexual assault but is identifying Brittany Pilkington because her name and image were widely published following her arrest in the deaths of her three sons.
Joseph Pilkington assumed a dominant parental role in the girl’s household and supported her by providing living expenses, food and shelter, according to Thursday’s indictment.
He also presented himself as Brittany Pilkington’s father when taking her to medical appointments as a child and at the school she attended, the indictment said.
“After raising her as one of his daughters for years, he had sexual intercourse with her when she was 17 and got her pregnant,” according to the indictment.
Logan County Children’s Services had temporary custody of the children in May after launching a neglect investigation a month earlier following the death of the couple’s 4-year-old son, Gavin, in April and a baby brother, Niall, the previous July.
After a three-day custody hearing that ended Aug. 11, a judge ordered the children returned to the parents, ruling there wasn’t concrete evidence the first two boys were killed. The judge has declined to comment.
The new baby, 3-month-old Noah, was found dead Aug. 18 in the couple’s apartment in Bellefontaine.
Authorities say Brittany Pilkington confessed to the three killings the day Noah was found dead, saying she was jealous of the attention her husband paid to their sons at the expense of her and their daughter.