The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 19, 2010

NEW – Judge makes ruling on Bedford DA rape case

BEDFORD — A Centre County judge has ruled that a woman who alleged she was raped by Bedford County District Attorney William Higgins should not be given access to a state investigation.

The woman from Bedford County maintains that she followed Higgins to the Bedford County Courthouse following a county Republican Party function where he forced her to have sex with him.

Higgins admits to having sex with the woman, but said again Friday that what occurred was consential on her part.

“It’s obviously a relief that this will come to an end, but this in no way exonerates me from irreprehensible conduct,” he said.

“This doesn’t mean that I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said.

The incident took place in the summer of 2008 when the woman said she was seeking support from Higgins, who was then a member of the county Republican committee, in her bid for a township tax collector post.

Higgins has since resigned as an official of the party.

Senior Judge Charles Brown in his ruling said the argument made at a December hearing by the woman’s attorney Thomas Crawford failed to show probably cause and chances of a conviction are slim.

“Furthermore, physical evidence is lacking, credible specific details regarding the alleged crime of rape are lacking,” the judge wrote.

He also expressed concern that the woman waited six weeks after the alleged incident to attempt to file a private criminal complaint.

When she attempted to file the complaint, Higgins turned the matter over to the office of state Attorney General Thomas Corbett.

The AG’s office investigated the matter and rejected the woman’s request.

It is that investigation that the woman, through Crawford is attempting to gain access to.

Crawford said late Friday that the matter has not been resolved and there may be an appeal filed with the state Superior Court.

He has yet to discuss the options with his client, he said. An appeal must be made in 30 days.

“I think eventually the charges will be filed because there is probably cause,” he said.

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