A former West Pottsgrove man, on the lam since 1996 for an assault at a township tavern, apparently fears being characterized as someone who made "terroristic" threats."I think it's going to ruin my career," Edwin C. Kerswill VI told a Montgomery County judge on Friday when faced with a plea agreement which required him to admit guilt to the terroristic threats charge.
Kerswill, 44, formerly of the 300 block of Old Reading Pike, told Judge William R. Carpenter he works as a boilermaker at such places as power plants.
"As a boilermaker he's concerned that these charges affect the locations his union would be permitted to send him," defense lawyer Frank Flick said later on Kerswill's behalf.
Despite his concern about the "terroristic" label, Kerswill, after hesitating several seconds, accepted the agreement and pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor terroristic threats charge as well as charges of simple assault and indecent assault in connection with a March 1995 incident at the Stowe-Away Restaurant and Tavern on West High Street.
Prosecutors and former West Pottsgrove Police Officer Todd Richard, now a Pottstown detective, alleged in a criminal complaint that Kerswill had indecent contact with one woman, assaulted another woman by pushing her into a jukebox and threatened to rape and kill them during a disturbance inside the tavern in the early morning hours of March 12, 1995.
Kerswill had been on the lam since May 1996 when he didn't appear for trial on the charges, according to court records. Kerswill was finally apprehended earlier this year in Delaware and returned to the county to face the outstanding charges.
"You can run but you can't hide," said Assistant District Attorney Samantha Cauffman. "If you break the law in Montgomery County you will be held accountable for your actions whether it's this year, next year or 15 years from now."
Judge Carpenter accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Kerswill to nine to 23 months in the county jail, to be followed by three years' probation. Kerswill is eligible for the jail's work-release program during his incarceration, according to the plea agreement.
"He was motivated to resolve the charges because he needed to resume his life," said Flick, explaining Kerswill's decision to accept the plea agreement. "He's glad he's resolved these charges because every day of his life he was looking over his shoulders wondering if this would be the day."
Kerswill, according to a criminal complaint, was at the tavern for several hours drinking beer and whiskey shots before the 1:45 a.m. disturbance unfolded.
As two women who were working at the bar waited for Kerswill to leave at closing time, Kerswill allegedly made lewd, sexual remarks to the women and touched one of the women inappropriately and pushed the second woman into a jukebox during a brief struggle, according to the arrest affidavit.
At one point Kerswill threatened that he wanted to rape the women and told them he had a gun and would kill them, according to the criminal complaint. Kerswill said, "I am gonna rape you real good," the arrest affidavit alleged.
With the help of a bartender, the women were able to eventually force Kerswill outside and they then notified police, court papers indicate.
During the years that Kerswill was on the lam, one of the women died, prosecutors said. However, other witnesses, including the second woman and the bartender, were available to testify against Kerswill had the case gone to trial.