Westmoreland judge says sex charges will stand against suspended cop
Sexual assault, rape and related charges against a suspended Mt. Pleasant Borough police officer will stand, a Westmoreland County judge ruled Tuesday.
Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher Feliciani said five other cases involving five alleged victims in Western Pennsylvania can be prosecuted against John Andrew Brown in Westmoreland County.
Brown, 44, of Mt. Lebanon was charged by county prosecutors this year with rape and other offenses after women from Allegheny, Beaver and Erie counties came forward and accused him of sex crimes. The allegations came about a year after police in Westmoreland County charged Brown with rape after a woman said he identified himself as a police officer and choked her at a Donegal Township apartment after she rejected his sexual advances.
Brown's lawyers claimed the subsequent five cases that originated in other counties should be dismissed in Westmoreland.
In a nine-page opinion, Feliciani said all of the cases against Brown resulted from the continuation of the same criminal episode. The judge ruled that the alleged offenses were “strikingly similar.”
Police said each of the six women, including the previously charged case from Donegal, involved allegations that Brown grabbed victims by their faces and hair, then struck and slapped them before calling them names and referred to himself as “master.”
“As Mr. Brown's alleged behavior shows a potential common scheme or course of conduct, each victim's testimony would be relevant in each trial,” Feliciani ruled.
The judge said the timing of the alleged assaults was a factor as they occurred in sequence, each several months apart over a two-year period.
Charges in the original case from Donegal were held for court following a preliminary hearing last year before Ligonier District Judge Denise Thiel.
Preliminary hearings in the remaining five cases are scheduled before Thiel on Nov. 8.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.