Friday, August 21, 2009

Ex Pennsylvania judge gets 2 years probation for fondling 18 year old

Former Blair County Judge Richard E. Behrens was sentenced to 2 years probation for fondling a woman after open pleading (aka "no contest") to indecent assault of an 18 year old woman, Tuesday, August 18. County District Attorney Richard Consiglio did not make a sentencing recommendation. Due to a conflict of interest, Senior Judge John K. Reilly of Clearfield County imposed the sentence. The maximum sentence for indecent assault in Pennsylvania is 2 years in prison.

In April 2008, on the opening night of the baseball season, Behrens took the 18-year-old high school senior and another girl to an Altoona Curve game. After the game, Behrens dropped off one girl and then pulled to the side of Decker Hollow Road in Snyder Township and began fondling his young passenger, police said.

She reported the incident to state police, and within days, Aungst, then an investigator at the Hollidaysburg barracks, interviewed Behrens. Behrens called the girl the next day, stating he was concerned about her, police said.Since the incident, Behrens said he has been attending counseling sessions with a Cambria County minister and at Family Resources of Pittsburgh.

Behrens began the counseling programs before criminal charges were filed, said his defense attorney, Terry Despoy. "I really have to commend his efforts at dealing with this problem," Despoy said after the hearing.

Court papers also stated that after the incident, "I know you must think that I'm the worst hypocrite in the world. ... I feel that way. I failed my wife, I failed my children and I failed my family."

The victim, now a college student in California, stated that she needed counseling and that the fondling "continues to haunt me. This is going to be a process of healing no matter where I am."
According to investigating state trooper Charles Aungst, the woman wanted guilt acknowledged more that a jail sentence.

This is not the first incident involving Behrens and a young person. In 1986, he was charged with indecent assault of his stepdaughter, but charges were dropped after the stepdaughter refused to testify. Behrens also faces mandatory reporting of his conviction to the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania since the maximum jail term for indecent assault is more than a year.

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