Saltsburg man acquitted of rape charges
A Saltsburg man was acquitted Friday of felony rape charges, and jurors failed to reach a verdict on lesser sex offenses.
After more than eight hours of deliberations, a Westmoreland County jury found Donald A. Swartz, 32, not guilty of rape and aggravated assault charges in connection with allegations raised by a 34-year-old Oklahoma Borough woman last year.
The jury convicted Swartz of lesser charges of burglary, terroristic threats and loitering.
Jurors deadlocked on two counts of sexual assault and a charge of aggravated indecent assault.
Assistant District Attorney Jim Lazar said no decision has been made as to whether the prosecution will seek to retry Swartz on those three charges.
“I will confer with the victim and will make a decision without delay,” Lazar said in court.
Westmoreland County Judge Al Bell delayed sentencing on the charges Swartz was convicted of until the remaining outstanding counts are addressed.
Bell allowed Swartz to remain free on $40,000 bail.
During two days of testimony, jurors heard Swartz's accuser contend that she was attacked in her home on Aug. 14, 2011.
Lazar told jurors in his closing argument that Swartz was angry with the woman, and through a series of text messages hours before the alleged rape he made threats against her with escalating severity.
Swartz then drove out to her home, broke in through a window, then later confronted the woman on her back porch. Lazar claimed Swartz went inside and raped her.
“Anger and jealousy were his motives, and fear and sexual violence were his tools,” Lazar told jurors.
Defense attorney William Wiker told jurors they should convict his client of making terroristic threats but said there was not enough evidence to convict him of the more serious rape and assault charges.
Wiker said evidence showed that Swartz had consensual sexual relations with his accuser and that she concocted the rape allegation after he was caught lying to her. Wiker said the woman believed she was to receive a cut of $1,000 in gambling winnings Swartz claimed to have. Instead, Swartz had just $5 in his pocket, cash his mother gave him for gas money, according to Wiker.
“Maybe that's the way it happened, maybe it's not, but it's possible and that's reasonable doubt,” Wiker said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hempfield train crash search called off; no evidence found
- Online donors help Hempfield teen whose wallet was stolen
- Westmoreland used car dealers indicted in fraud
- Numerous Westmoreland communities to observe Memorial Day
- Westmoreland County Blind Association building brimming with activity
- ‘Dope sick’ man in custody in Mt. Pleasant stick-up
- Sewickley Township agrees to lease for land for playground
- Travel restrictions to be lifted on Route 30 in Hempfield
- Man killed after car leaves Route 819, veers through East Huntington parking lot
- Arnold man could get resisting arrest charge dismissed
- Greensburg, Youngwood pools opening for the season May 30