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Suspended Johnstown officer pleads guilty to third-degree rape

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
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Adam Schwabrow.
Adam Schwabrow.

— Suspended Johnstown police officer Adam Schwabrow pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of third-degree rape and officially resigned his position with the police department as part of a plea agreement, according to the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office.

He is expected to serve one year in jail.

Schwabrow, 32, submitted his plea before acting Fulton County Court Judge S. Peter Feldstein, admitting he had sex with someone younger than 17 years old. The Class E felony charge was lodged after allegations came out last year that Schwabrow had sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl in the city of Johnstown over a period of time beginning in May of 2011. No force was alleged in the case and Schwabrow was not on duty at the time of the encounters.

Because of the lack of force, Schwabrow’s attorney sought probation in place of jail time, said Saratoga County DA James Murphy III, whose office was appointed special prosecutor for the case.

“We said no to that,” he said. “Even though no force was involved, this was statutory, meaning she was less than 17 years of age. But it doesn’t have to be physical force to be serious. He was in a position of power and she was too young to be capable of consent, which is why we thought he should not only resign, but also do a year in jail.”

Schwabrow resigned from the Johnstown police force, where he served nine years, effective Tuesday at 1 p.m. in the form of a letter addressed to police Chief Mark Gifford.

“As an adult he should know better than to have sex with a minor and that is exactly why the statute is written, to protect young girls,” said Murphy in a news release. “Someone who commits a felony and exercises such horrific judgment should never be a police officer and that is why we insisted on a resignation as part of the felony conviction and jail time.”

Schwabrow had surrendered his firearms to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department at the time of his arrest on Sept. 19. Seven weeks later, the DA’s office began investigating rumors that Schwabrow pulled his gun out and pointed it at fellow officers during the arrest.

“But when we asked the chief about that he said no, there was just some fumbling around for the gun,” said Murphy. “So they followed up on the allegation, but never turned anything over to us that indicated anything criminal.”

Sentencing has been scheduled for May 13 at 10 a.m. In addition to one year in Fulton County Jail, Schwabrow is expected to pay fines and surcharges.

Assistant DA Jennifer Buckley, who prosecuted the case, said Tuesday in a news release that the victim is satisfied with Schwabrow’s guilty plea and resignation.

“The victim was fully cooperative in the prosecution and is relieved this part of her life is over,” Buckley said.

Fulton County DA Louise Sira and a local judge recused themselves from the case in September because it would have been a conflict of interest to investigate one of their own police officers.

At the time of his arrest, Schwabrow had also been serving as emergency management director for Montgomery County since October 2012. He was suspended without pay from his police and county jobs, which had annual salaries of about $55,000 and $25,000, respectively. The status of his job with Montgomery County is unknown at this time. Jeffery Smith retired from his post as Montgomery County undersheriff in January and now fills Schwabrow’s old role with the county.

 
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