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Criminal Justice

Prominent attorney now faces AG prosecution of rape case, after charges were dropped in March by DA

Posted Apr 25, 2014 11:15 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A prominent Pennsylvania attorney won a six-week reprieve when a criminal case alleging he had raped a law firm employee was dropped in March by the Montgomery County district attorney's office.

But now the state attorney general has announced that her office has filed a new case against Robert Kerns, 66, over the same claimed Oct. 25, 2013 and Oct. 26, 2013 conduct involving a female law firm paralegal. He faces charges of rape, sexual assault, indecent assault and simple assault concerning what allegedly happened when he drove the woman home after a work social event at a restaurant at which she had been drinking, according to a press release by the AG's office. However, it appears that the prosecution is no longer contending that the woman was drugged by Kerns with Ambien, a sleep aid.

Kerns was a name partner of a Lansdale law firm at the time and formerly served as chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party.

In mid-March, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the case was being dropped by the DA's office in what the newspaper called "a stunning twist," because the government had determined that the paralegal had not been drugged with Ambien, as the prosecution had earlier claimed.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman admitted her office had bungled the case by initially misreading lab results and launched an internal investigation, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday. She also asked the AG's office to review the file and consider filing its own charges against Kerns.

The article doesn't include any comment from Kerns or his counsel, but he has previously maintained his innocence.

Defense attorney Brian McMonagle represented Kerns in the Montgomery County case. The Inquirer says he could not be reached for comment about the new case and he did not immediately respond Friday to a message from the ABA Journal.

Kerns apparently turned himself in to authorities and WTXF, a Fox News affiliate, says he is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

McMonagle told the station two toxicologists reviewed the lab work and found no evidence of Ambien.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: "Law firm reconfigures after name partner is charged with rape"

Intelligencer: "Ex-Montgomery County GOP head re-arrested on rape charge"

Morning Call: "Ex-GOP leader in Montco again faces rape charges"

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