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Two arrested on sexual assault charges

by James Fisher

REGIONAL WRITER

Clarksburg Police Wednesday night arrested two Harrison County residents for several sexually-related charges.

Joseph Helms, 45, of Bridgeport, was arrested for three counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of first-degree sexual assault in connection with several alleged incidents with a 10-year-old female in the care of his 29-year-old girlfriend, said Clarksburg detective Kim Kunkel.

Helms was arrested at the Harrison County Correctional Center. He had been previously arrested by the West Virginia State Police on two counts of failing to register or change his address as a registered sexual offender.

Helms is being held on $60,000 bond for the state police charges and $200,000 for the Clarksburg charges, according to Harrison County Magistrate Court records.

Late Wednesday night, Clarksburg police arrested Loretta Richards for two counts of sexual assault by a parent, guardian or custodian and one count of exhibiting, possessing or displaying material visually portraying a child under her care in sexually explicit conduct. Richards is being held on $80,000 bond. Police staked out Richards' house for about three hours before arresting her on Washington Avenue near the county jail.

"We had some people come to us in August and say they had seen the pictures and told us other things had occurred," Kunkel said Thursday. "The state police were already investigating Helms, so it was kind of a joint thing."

According to the West Virginia State Police Sexual Offender Registry, Helms was convicted in 1990 of two counts of sexual exploitation of children between the ages of 6 and 12 and served about 512 years in a state correctional facility.

Regional writer James Fisher can be reached at 626-1446.

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