SCRANTON, Pennsylvania — A former northeastern Pennsylvania police chief has been granted a new trial on charges that he sexually assaulted a teenage girl a decade ago.
A state appeals court ruled Friday that improper testimony was allowed in the trial of former Old Forge police chief Larry Semenza, The (Scranton) Times-Tribune (http://bit.ly/1XulzGK ) reported.
Prosecutors alleged that Semenza and former police Capt. Jamie Krenitsky assaulted the girl beginning in 2004 when she was 15 and a junior firefighter. Krenitsky and a former borough firefighter pleaded guilty to misdemeanor indecent assault.
Semenza was convicted of corruption of a minor and failing to report suspected child abuse but acquitted of four other charges including aggravated indecent assault and unlawful contact with a minor. He was sentenced to 18 months to four years in prison.
The three-judge state Superior Court panel ruled that the trial judge should not have allowed testimony of an adult woman who alleged that she felt pressured into having sex with Semenza when they were away on a trip. Prosecutors argued that the testimony demonstrated a pattern of Semenza using his position of authority to get females to agree to his sexual advances.
The appeals court, however, noted significant differences in the two alleged cases, including the difference in age between the woman and the minor and the different activity alleged, sexual intercourse with the woman and primarily kissing and fondling in the case of the minor.
"Because of the many dissimilarities in Semenza's treatment of these individuals, we conclude that the evidence of Semenza's relationship with (the woman) is inadmissible," the court said.
District Attorney Andrew Jarbola said he was disappointed by the decision and planned to appeal.
Information from: The Times-Tribune, http://thetimes-tribune.com/