Bar Associations

Pennsylvania bar president resigns after he's charged with patronizing a prostitute

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Pennsylvania Bar Association President David Eric Schwager resigned Tuesday, the same day that he was charged with patronizing a prostitute who allegedly tried to extort him.

Schwager, 58, had a sexual encounter with a woman in December 2019 after hiring her through an escort website, criminal complaints allege. Emily Ann Merth, 25, has been charged with promoting prostitution, theft by extortion and sexual extortion.

The Legal Intelligencer, Law360 and the Times Leader have details of the criminal complaints.

Schwager told police that Merth had secretly recorded the encounter at a residence in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. And when he noticed that it was happening, he told her to stop. When Merth said she would record audio only, Schwager got dressed and left, according to details in criminal complaints cited by the news articles.

Merth allegedly threatened to post a nude video of Schwager if he didn’t pay her $1,000. The woman lowered her demand to $700, and Schwager contacted police, the criminal complaints allege.

Merth was arrested when Schwager returned to the home, ostensibly to pay her the money, and she went outside to meet him. She allegedly told police that she videotapes sexual encounters to sell and make more money.

Schwager is a Luzerne County assistant solicitor. He has been placed on administrative leave without pay, according to the Times Leader. He was also chair of Pennsylvania’s attorney disciplinary board in 2017, according to the Legal Intelligencer.

The bar association’s executive director, Barry M. Simpson, released this statement to the publications covering Schwager’s resignation: “While the charge is troubling, every person accused of a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty, and we have confidence in the operation of our justice system.”

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