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Recently Gearty Law was able to obtain a dismissal of sexual assault charges that were lodged against a client of the firm. Cases like this are examples of how good people can end up being involved with the criminal justice system. In this case, a statement was made alleging that the Defendant and a friend sexually assault a woman. There was absolutely no evidence that would have supported that statement. To the contrary, there was plenty of evidence to show this was a consensual act. Nonetheless, charges were filed. Once charges are filed, bail is set, the person needs to retain an attorney, and the person can go through months of worry regarding the potential outcome of the case (a loss could have resulted in decades in prison), not to mention damage done to a person’s reputation due to the charges being filed. Fortunately, in this case, the charges were dismissed before permanent damage was done.
Below is the article written regarding this case.

JUDY D.J. ELLICH

DAILY AMERICAN REPORTER

Daily American

10:40 p.m. EDT, October 22, 2012
SOMERSET COUNTY—
Sexual assault charges against two 28-year-old Windber men were withdrawn at a second preliminary hearing before District Judge Joseph Cannoni Monday.

XXXXXXX, 19th Street, and XXXXXXX, Mine 37, were accused of forcing a woman to have sex with them Nov. 22.

“As a result of the further investigation it became apparent that there would be proof problems to support the crimes charged,” District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser said in a telephone interview.

XXXX’s defense attorney, Justin Gearty of Lancaster, called the withdrawal of the charges “a happy resolution.” He said there is no evidence in this case other than a statement by the alleged victim.

“The reason XXXX waived his right to his (first) preliminary hearing and we agreed to a plea of recklessly endangering, a relatively minor offense compared to the more serious sexual assault offenses charged, was because we didn’t have all the evidence yet and we based our decision on the limited information we had,” Justin Gearty said.

Reckless endangerment was not among the original charges against the two men. It is not a sexual offense. Initially, the men were charged by Paint Township police with three counts each of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and criminal conspiracy, and one count each of indecent assault and indecent exposure.

“All along XXXX was adamant that he didn’t do anything wrong,” Justin Gearty said.

The defense asked Somerset County President Judge John Cascio to remand the cases back to the magisterial court level after discovering evidence supporting the defense’s belief that a prima facie case did not exist. Prima facie is a Latin term meaning “at first view.” The district attorney’s office did not object to the request. Cascio remanded the case Sept. 18.

“We were prepared to proceed for a preliminary hearing today and go before a jury if need be,” he said.

On March 14 the two men waived their right to a preliminary hearing and the case was sent to county court prior to being remanded back to Cannoni’s office.

XXXX’s attorney is public defender Tara Marie Yutzy Collier. Assistant District Attorney Hannah Myers was the prosecutor for both preliminary hearings. Both attorneys were not available for comment Monday.

Both men pleaded guilty to a summary harassment charge that carries a maximum of 90 days in jail and a $300 fine. XXXX was ordered to pay fines and court costs. XXXX requested that he serve 15 days in jail in place of the fine. His request was granted. He was ordered to pay court costs.