WILKES-BARRE — Admitting two months ago to fondling two young girls during visits to SCI-Retreat, state inmate Andre Vancliff withdrew his guilty plea Friday to criminal conspiracy to commit corruption of minors and now faces trial.
Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough approved the motion. Vancliff, 47, admitted to the two counts in February.
Vancliff’s attorney, Hugh Sumner, said his client is asserting his innocence and felt pressured to enter the initial guilty pleas. Assistant District Attorney Jenny Roberts had no objections.
A pre-trial date was set for June 9. Sumner declined to provide any additional comment.
Because Vancliff was permitted to withdraw his guilty plea, prosecutors reinstated charges of endangering the welfare of children and indecent assault against Vancliff.
The charges were in connection with the case involving Ann Butler, 42, of Danville. Butler allegedly took two young girls, then ages 4 and 7, to the prison to visit Vancliff. Butler had befriended Vancliff, who is serving a life sentence for a slaying in Philadelphia.
Between May 2010 to September 2012, investigators said Vancliff touched the girls inappropriately during visits.
Vancliff initially faced two counts each of indecent assault on a person under 13 and conspiracy to commit corruptions of minors, along with one count of corruptions of minors.
As part of a guilty plea agreement, three of the counts were dropped in February.
Investigators said they were alerted to inappropriate contact by intercepting two September 2012 letters, which Vancliff allegedly wrote to Butler and the older girl, then 11. Both letters included sexual content, investigators said.
Under questioning days later, Vancliff allegedly told officers he wanted to have sex with Butler and the two girls to see if Butler was “freaky.”