Child molestation charges for NJ man who put on famed Christmas display
READINGTON — A township man who puts on a large holiday lights festival called "Christmas City" has been charged with molesting three children.
It is the third time in as many months that Darren Pieper, 44, has been arrested on charges related to children.
Acting Hunterdon County Prosecutor Michael J. Williams said Pieper committed the sexual assaults on various occasions between 2011 and 2015 in both Readington and Raritan townships.
He was charged July 22 with three counts of second-degree sexual assault of a minor and three counts of third-degree endangering the welfare of a child by sexual conduct.
The latest arrest follows the his June 21 bust by Readington police on charges of possession of child pornography after police said they found storage devices containing the files.
Police said their investigation of Pieper began in May when a runaway teen from Virginia was found in a van parked on the Pieper property. Police at the time said that he and his wife, Tracy, had given officers "false information" in order to keep them from finding the teen, who had been reported missing in October. They did not describe the couple's relationship to the teen. The charges against his wife were later dropped.
Pieper was arrested in May on charges of third-degree custodial interference, third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, fourth-degree obstructing the administration of law, fourth-degree hindering his own apprehension, and a disorderly persons charge of providing alcohol to minors.
Pieper put up the Christmas City display at his Flemington home, which featured 100,000 lights on 67 Christmas trees, according to a 2012 NJ.com story. He accepted donations for the Children's Miracle Network.
Tracy Pieper was arrested and charged with fourth-degree obstruction the administration of law, and hindering her own apprehension.
According to a 2014 post on the website MommyPoppins.com, Darren Pieper was manager of Jungle Gym in Flemington.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story should have said that Tracy Pieper was charged with a fourth-degree crime and a disorderly persons offense but that the charges were later dropped.
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