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Former Montco GOP Chairman Charged With Rape

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The former chairman of the Republican Party in Montgomery County has been arrested, the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office said Tuesday.

Robert J. Kerns, 66, of North Wales, is facing 19 charges in connection with an alleged sexual assault, according to court documents. He surrendered to county detectives Tuesday morning.

Prosecutors held a late-morning news conference on the case. They said the alleged victim was one of Kerns' employees and he was to drive her home.

According to a criminal complaint, Kerns faces a total of 19 charges, including rape of an unconscious person, rape of a substantially impaired person, sexual assault, indecent assault, possession of an instrument of crime, unsworn falsification to authorities, tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and one drug count.

According to prosecutors, a grand jury concluded that Kerns drugged the woman with Ambien in wine and, once she was unconscious, sexually assaulted her and took her back to her home.

The woman went to a hospital, then contact Upper Merion police, prosecutors said.

The alleged offense date is listed as Oct. 25, the day after Montgomery County Republican Committee's Fall Reception and Dinner at Westover Country Club in West Norriton, featuring distinguished guest Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.

During a preliminary arraignment, bail was set at 10 percent of $1,000,000. Court documents say Kerns did not post, and he was being taken to the county jail. A preliminary hearing is tentatively set for Dec. 6.

Prosecuting the case will be Assistant District Attorney Samantha Cauffman.

Brian McMonagle, Kerns' defense attorney, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon that said, "Mr. Kerns vehemently denies these accusations. Anybody who knows Bob Kerns knows he's incapable of such conduct. He's incapable of rape. He's incapable of drugging somebody."

Prosecutors said Tuesday that the matter was referred to the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, but the A.G. did not assume the case because there was no conflict of interest.

Kerns, who is a lawyer in the firm Kerns, Pearlstine, Onorato & Hladik LLP, resigned as Montgomery County Republican Committee chairman earlier this month amid multiple reports that a sexual assault investigation was ongoing.

The county GOP's website says Kerns is married with three sons.

A new committee chairperson is expected to be chosen next month.

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