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Leechburg mayor-elect faces charges in alleged assault of stepson

| Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, 5:28 p.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Leechburg mayor-elect Shawn Lerch is shown at the Leechburg Fire Department social hall on primary election day in May 2013.

Leechburg's mayor-elect is accused of assaulting his 18-year-old stepson in their home on Thursday night.

Shawn Lerch, 38, of the 500 block of Second Street, is charged with simple assault and harassment.He was arraigned at night court and released on a $5,000 non-monetary bond pending a Nov. 27 preliminary hearing, records show.

An emergency protection-from- abuse order also was issued Thursday night by a district judge, who set Lerch's bond at $5,000. Lerch was ordered to stay at least 100 feet away from the victim and stay away from the home.

Attempts to reach Lerch were unsuccessful.

Police said they received a 911 call about 10:30 p.m. Thursday about a domestic dispute at the house.

Police say they found Lerch, the alleged victim and Lerch's wife outside.

An officer said he took a .22-caliber revolver and knife from Lerch. Neither was used in the alleged incident.

The alleged victim told police his mother and Lerch argued about moving the woman's mother.

The 18-year-old man alleged Lerch “came home drunk” and that the two of them “stood toe to toe” after Lerch allegedly called the victim's grandmother, Lerch's mother-in-law, a nasty name.According to police, Lerch grabbed the stepson's neck and slammed him down inside the house.

Lerch told police he'd had a few beers and said he and his wife started to argue. According to police, Lerch said he pushed the 18-year-old down.

Lerch was handcuffed and taken to the Leechburg police station, where he allegedly told the arresting officer there would be “repercussions.” The comment was allegedly heard by a Parks Township officer, too.

Among their duties, mayors oversee police departments in their boroughs.

He was taken to the Armstrong County Jail at 2:45 a.m. and released about 7:40 a.m. after posting bond.

Lerch, a Democrat, was on the borough's fall ballot as a Democrat and Republican.

He is scheduled to become mayor in January. He is currently a councilman.

No one answered a phone call to the Lerch residence on Friday morning. A message left for Lerch's cellphone wasn't returned.

Current Mayor Tony Roppolo and police Chief Mike Diebold declined to comment. Borough Solicitor James A. Favero didn't return numerous calls.

Lerch is accused of simple assault, which is a misdemeanor, and harassment, which is a summary charge.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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