PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A former North Hills ice cream shop owner who is accused of molesting two young girls who were family friends was found guilty on 12 of 15 counts on Thursday afternoon.

The jury began deliberating around noon Wednesday after getting through two full days of testimony.

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David Higginbotham, 62, is the former owner of Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream and Yogurt in McCandless.

He was accused of sexually assaulting two sisters when they were ages 7 and 8.

“This has been a long struggle,” said defense attorney Phil DiLucente. “It’s a hard and difficult case. It’s been extremely difficult for the family and now we’re at that juncture where we’re going to prepare for sentencing.”

During two days of testimony, the jury heard from the two girls who are now 12- and 13-years-old. They gave detailed descriptions of the incidents at or around Higginbotham’s swimming pool and home.

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The most serious charges were dismissed; involuntary deviate intercourse and statutory sexual assault. But the jury believed everything else the girls said, in spite of Higginbotham’s denials.

“This jury was a jury that gave time, patience and really reasoned through the facts. It was not beneficial to the defendant,” said DiLucente.

Following the verdict, Higginbotham was taken straight to jail.

DiLucente said they will review the possibility of an appeal. But for now Higginbotham will remain behind bars.

“Anytime you have a case with 15 charges you’re being faced with and you know that the verdict’s coming in, you make sure that your client is prepared,” he said.

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Lynne Hayes-Freeland