PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Handel’s Ice Cream store owner David Higginbotham showed up at the magistrate’s hearing Wednesday for the first time to face his accusers.

Accusing him are two juveniles who allege they were sexually assaulted by Higginbotham over a five-year period inside his Baden home.

“We believe these charges are outlandish,” defense attorney Phil DiLucente said.

Higginbotham, owner of the popular North Hills ice cream shop, was arrested last month and charged with two counts of corruption of minors, four counts of statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child and aggravated indecent assault.

The alleged victims told police the incidents started back in 2008, and continued until August of this year. The sisters were initially in the care of Higginbotham’s daughter-in-law, who worked as their nanny and sometimes brought the girls to his home.

“It’s a highly emotional case,” DiLucente said. “Anytime you have children involved and a high, successful person – when you have that flavor, if you will, but you can not forget that this man standing next to me is innocent.”

After listening to some of the testimony presented Wednesday, two of the charges were withdrawn: one charge of statutory sexual assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. Higginbotham was held for court on all the other charges.

“It’s chipping away at the stones and we’re pleased to continue chipping away,” DiLucente said.

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Lynne Hayes-Freeland