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Charges stand in Hill Crest Country Club sexual assault case

| Friday, June 28, 2013, 12:36 a.m.

Charges against a Hill Crest Country Club board member accused of sexually assaulting a female bartender at the club in March were held for court this week.

Multiple counts of indecent assault against Robert Reifschneider Jr., 54, of Lower Burrell were held Tuesday by District Judge Cheryl Peck Yakopec.

According to a criminal complaint, the bartender reported the incident to police on Thursday, March 21.

She said as she was closing up on the previous Sunday, St. Patrick's Day, she went into the men's locker room to turn off the lights, announcing her presence to any man inside.

Believing there was no one there, she decided to use the restroom.

While she was in the stall, someone pushed the door open from the outside. She said it was Reifschneider.

She said Reifschneider put his hand on her genitals while she was sitting on the toilet, grabbed her breast as she forced her way out of the stall and made indecent requests.

She told police Reifschneider left the club when she grabbed her cellphone.

Police are not identifying the victim. Attempts to identify and contact her attorney were unsuccessful.

John Petrush Jr., who is handling the case for the Westmoreland County District Attorney's office, said the victim's account is credible.

“At the preliminary hearing when she testified, she came across as very sincere, very upset and very credible,” he said. “Obviously, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, but clearly the evidence that the police gathered in the case was persuasive enough that they thought it was worthwhile to file charges. The district judge also considered the evidence that we presented to her sufficient.”

But Reifschneider's attorney, Duke George of New Kensington, said the accusations “are without any merit whatsoever.”

George claims the alleged victim has an ulterior motive for making the accusations.

“There's no doubt that it's monetarily motivated,” George said. “Based on my cross-examination of her, her story makes no sense whatsoever.”

Reifschneider is charged with two counts of aggravated indecent assault, two counts of indecent assault and one count of invasion of privacy.

A formal arraignment in Westmoreland County Court is set for Aug. 21.

Dan Merchant, general manager of the Hill Crest Country Club, said Reifschneider took a leave of absence from the club's board of directors shortly after his arrest.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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