More than a month after the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office
dropped rape charges against a lawyer and political leader because of a botched investigation, Pennsylvania’s top prosecutor has revived the case against Robert Kerns.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced on April 24 that her office had filed criminal charges against Kerns, who stands accused of drugging and raping a female paralegal who worked at his law firm, Kerns, Pearlstine, Onorato and Hladnik.
Kerns, 66, of North Wales, Montgomery County, is being charged with three counts of indecent assault, two counts of aggravated indecent assault, one count of rape, one count of sexual assault and one count of simple assault.
Prosecutors tell the following account:
Kerns offered the female staffer a ride following a celebratory gathering at a Blue Bell, Montgomery County restaurant on Oct. 25, 2013, because the woman was apparently too intoxicated to drive.
The victim said she was capable of walking on her own, but didn’t want to get behind the wheel, and therefore decided to accept Kerns’ offer.
Kerns then allegedly drove the woman to the King of Prussia Mall, where he engaged in “sexual intercourse and/or penetration of the victim’s genitals without her consent or knowledge,” reads a news release from the Attorney General’s Office.
After the incident in the vehicle, Kerns then continued to assault the victim at her residence without her consent or knowledge, the prosecutor’s office maintains.
The victim is said to have awoken the next day in a panic, finding dried vomit on her clothing and discovering that she wasn’t wearing any pants or underwear.
The woman also allegedly found bruises, fingermarks and scratches on the inside of her left thigh, as well as scratches and marks on her right thigh, vaginal soreness and pain in her back between her shoulder blades, according to the Attorney General’s office.
Kerns originally faced rape and other charges at the county level, but District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman last month dropped the case because, she said, her investigators inadvertently misread a lab report to say that the victim had the sleep drug Ambien in her system at the time of the alleged assault.
The medication had not actually been in the woman’s system at the time.
Ferman forwarded the case to Kane’s office, but said last month it would be up to the attorney general to decide whether or not to re-file the charges.
Kerns has publicly denied that he sexually assaulted the woman.
At the time Ferman made her March announcement, Kerns was already out on $1 million bail.
Kerns formerly headed up the Montgomery County Republican Party.