In May 2017, Attorney Elisabeth. K. H. Pasqualini secured a NOT GUILTY verdict for her male client following a three day jury trial on Indecent Assault charges in York County, PA. Her client was facing possible jail time and even worse, having to register as a sex offender if he had been convicted.

Thinking you might make a pass at a flirty co-worker? Better think twice. You could end up charged with Indecent Assault and risk having to register as a Sex Offender for fifteen years for trying to embrace or steal a kiss from a flirty acquaintance. In Pennsylvania, Indecent Assault, 18 Pa.C.S. §3126, involves the touching or causing contact with another's sexual or intimate parts for the purpose of arousing either party. The victim must not consent to the contact, and the accused must have known they didn't consent or recklessly ignored the possibility of the victim's non consent.

In this case, the client's leg touched a restaurant coworker's butt when he allegedly tried to kiss her from behind. Notwithstanding that that they had been sharing sexual banter for months, she had responded "yes" to his request earlier in the day to have intercourse with him (jokingly she said). She referred to him as her "husband" regularly to coworkers. Yet, the co-worker was surprised when the client tried to kiss her at the end of their shift.

The incident lasted less than 10 seconds and the client backed away with his hands in the air when she said "get the F off of me." He told her "I thought you were okay with this because of what you said earlier." Her response, "You know we all joke around and knew I was kidding." The facts I just related are her version of the story....

The scariest part of this trial was that had he been convicted, the client would have had to register as a "Tier I" sex offender for 15 years. (Back to the indecent contact which would have been the leg on the butt for purposes of arousal). It was an absurd case but terrifying because the stakes were so high for him. The client is black, has a distinctly middle-eastern sounding name, and was twenty years older than the girl. Her position at trial (revealed only after some vigorous cross examination and some faux drama) was that no matter what she said or how she acted, the client should have known he never had a shot with her. Words matter, actions matter, people matter. I am glad the jury saw the situation for what it was and found Attorney Pasqualini's client not guilty.

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In 2010, our firm represented an individual, J.H., that was charged with, among other things, Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse and Rape. The alleged sexual molestation was on a foster child that resided with him in 2005-2006. My client, a 60 year old man, had never been accused of anything in his life, despite having raised his own children and at least 20 foster kids over a span of the last 30 years. Based upon the advice of his former counsel, he entered a negotiated guilty plea to some of the charges in March 2009. Despite having entered pleas to reduced charges, he was still facing jail time and a possible lifetime of mandated registration under Megan's Law. He came to us after he entered the plea, but before sentencing. He felt he had done the wrong thing because he was not guilty, but felt he had no other choice. Based upon the information he shared with us and the evidence in the case, our attorney convinced him to petition the court to withdraw his plea and proceed to a trial. This was a risky proposition because the plea agreement would no longer be offered by the district attorney's office or accepted by the Court.

However, the victim's statements to the police were inconsistent. The victim, a 16-year-old boy at the time, had testified at a preliminary hearing and told the police something different. He had also made statements to a victim's resource center that were also inconsistent. There was no physical evidence of the crimes occurring. The client never admitted to committing the crimes. There were no key elements for a good prosecution in this case, such as corroborating physical evidence, a credible victim or an admission by a defendant.

After successfully withdrawing his plea, our office focused on his defense. We hired an investigator, interviewed the victim, the police, other Commonwealth witnesses, our own potential witnesses and gathered key evidence.

Of note in this case — the victim testified that the incident occurred when the client was watching a pornographic movie he had ordered through a "pay-per-view" service. The victim was adamant that there was no DVD, VHS or other method of watching the movie other than a "pay-per-view" box. Our investigator interviewed the records clerk for the cable service and was able to determine that our client never ordered such a movie, nor could he have, because such was blocked by our client one month earlier. This was devastating to the victim's credibility.

In the face of this and other evidence of our client's innocence, the district attorney's office agreed to nolle prosse, or dismiss, all the charges against our client! He went from a jail cell with possible lifetime registration requirements of Megan's Law to complete freedom and vindication. He was innocent without even having to conduct a trial.

This is why it is important to investigate your case utilizing an experienced defense attorney. Do NOT leave your case to someone that has little or no trial experience or is not willing to get their own hands dirty by sifting through the case. At Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC, we check on all available witnesses, run down all the leads; we don't stop until we have all the answers.

If you need experienced criminal defense, contact our office in Harrisburg by calling 717-827-4074.

Learn more about sex crimes cases on our Criminal Law Blog.