Criminal Justice

Judge tosses rape charges against lawyer accused in paralegal assault; other counts remain

A Pennsylvania lawyer accused of assaulting a paralegal after a work party has won dismissal of rape and sexual assault charges, though his legal troubles aren’t over.

Judge Joann Teyral dismissed the charges against lawyer Robert Kerns on Wednesday based on a transcript of previous preliminary hearing testimony by the alleged victim. The Legal Intelligencer, the Daily Times, the Morning Call and the Philadelphia Daily News have stories.

Teyral also said Kerns does not have to wear an ankle bracelet any longer, though he cannot have contact with the alleged victim. Kerns still faces charges of aggravated indecent assault, aggravated assault and simple assault in connection with the October 2013 incident.

Prosecutors told reporters that the judge’s decision allows them to proceed on the strongest charges. A lawyer for Kerns, Brian McMonagle, said his client was pleased by the decision.

Kerns “is an innocent man,” McMonagle told reporters, “and as this moves forward, we believe we’ll be able to prove his innocence of all charges in this case,” McMonagle said.

It’s not the first legal victory for Kerns. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s office dropped the case in March after acknowledging the paralegal was not drugged with Ambien, as first alleged in the case. An investigator had misread the lab test, the DA said. The state attorney general then filed a new case against Kerns.

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