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State police accuse former aide at Torrance State Hospital of assaulting female patient

Paul Peirce
| Wednesday, March 7, 2018, 11:36 a.m.
Former Torrance State Hospital psychiatric aide Donald Pepley, 61, of Johnstown, leaves Derry District Judge Mark Bilik’s office where he was arraigned Wednesday on charges of sexually assaulting a patient at the Derry Township facility.
Paul Peirce
Former Torrance State Hospital psychiatric aide Donald Pepley, 61, of Johnstown, leaves Derry District Judge Mark Bilik’s office where he was arraigned Wednesday on charges of sexually assaulting a patient at the Derry Township facility.
Former Torrance State Hospital psychiatric aide Donald Pepley, 61, of Johnstown, leaves Derry District Judge Mark Bilik’s office where he was arraigned Wednesday on charges of sexually assaulting a patient at the Derry Township facility.
Paul Peirce
Former Torrance State Hospital psychiatric aide Donald Pepley, 61, of Johnstown, leaves Derry District Judge Mark Bilik’s office where he was arraigned Wednesday on charges of sexually assaulting a patient at the Derry Township facility.

State police in Greensburg allege that a former psychiatric aide at Torrance State Hospital sexually assaulted a patient at the Derry Township facility late last year.

Donald Pepley, 61, of Johnstown was arraigned Wednesday before Derry District Judge Mark Bilik on charges of institutional sexual assault and three counts of indecent assault in connection with an alleged incident on Dec. 12.

Trooper Evan Terek states in an affidavit that another hospital aide who relieved Pepley after his 11 p.m. shift walked into a 42-year-old woman's room “and observed pornographic material displayed on Pepley's phone that he was holding in his left hand.”

“(The aide) observed Pepley's right hand underneath the victim's bedsheet. Upon seeing the aide, Pepley quickly concealed his phone toward his chest,” the aide told Terek, according to the affidavit.

The aide told the trooper that when Pepley left the room, the victim, who is mentally challenged, “was visibly upset.”

In a subsequent interview with Terek and other hospital staff members, the patient told investigators that Pepley “hurt me.”

Terek said that when investigators told her that Pepley was no longer working at the hospital “she seemed relieved and said she couldn't tell anyone until he was gone.”

As Pepley left Bilik's office, he denied any wrongdoing.

“I will tell you I am not guilty of these charges,” he said.

Pepley said he has hired attorney Jerome J. Kaharick of Johnstown.

He was released on $10,000 unsecured bond after his arraignment. His preliminary hearing before Bilik is scheduled for March 21.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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