Judge rejects bid to have Hempfield man released from prison pending jury trial
A Hempfield man charged in two separate criminal cases of rape and assault against the same woman will remain in jail until an unrelated drunken-driving case is resolved.
Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Rita Hathaway on Monday rejected a defense bid to have Harold M. Franks released on nominal bail pending a jury trial scheduled to begin in April involving allegations he assaulted and attempted to strangle a woman last year.
Franks, 36, also is facing rape charges after a woman appeared at a police station in October 2017 and told authorities she was raped, prosecutors contend. The Tribune-Review does not identify the victims of alleged sexual assault cases.
The woman has since recanted her allegations in both cases, saying she was not raped, and that Franks did not squeeze her neck during the second incident. Prosecutors said they will continue with the cases against Franks despite the alleged victim’s desire to withdraw the charges.
“The victim has made legal conclusions. She is not a lawyer. In our opinion, there is evidence to support the crimes,” Assistant District Attorney Judy Petrush said regarding the assault allegations.
Last week, Common Pleas Court Judge Tim Krieger, who is presiding over the rape case, ordered Franks to be released from jail on nominal bond saying his speedy trial rights were violated. Krieger this year barred prosecutors from using statements made by his alleged victim in which she told police and medical personnel she was raped.
Prosecutors have appealed that ruling, and Franks’ rape trial has been indefinitely delayed.
Meanwhile, Franks continues to be held in custody without bond in the assault and attempted strangulation case. Hathaway revoked his bail in September after Franks, who was free on $150,000 bail, was arrested after he was charged in July with driving under the influence.
Hathaway said she will not consider releasing Franks on bail until the drunken-driving case is resolved. That case is scheduled for trial in April.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .