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Exalted Then Disgraced Former Philly Cop Pleads Guilty To Reduced Charges

Steve Tawa Steve Tawa
Steve Tawa joined KYW Newsradio in 1990, and splits his time between...
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By Steve Tawa and Steve Patterson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A onetime hero Philadelphia police officer who had a long fall from grace today pleaded guilty to some charges in an open plea deal that drops other, more serious charges against him.

Troubled former Philadelphia police officer Richard DeCoatsworth, 28, pleaded guilty today at the Criminal Justice Center to promoting prostitution, simple assault, and a drug charge.

But more than 20 other, more serious charges — including involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, rape, aggravated assault and making terroristic threats — were dropped in an “open” plea deal with prosecutors.

DeCoatsworth’s lawyer Charles Peruto Jr. says, “He’s very pleased these charges were dropped because they were never true.”

The latest disturbing charges that had DeCoatsworth awaiting trial in March came from a 2013 incident in the Port Richmond section of the city in which he allegedly forced two women at gunpoint to do drugs and to perform sexual acts.

A separate incident in which he allegedly punched his girlfriend was also the basis for the charge against him.

In 2007, the then-rookie cop was shot in the face during a car stop — but continued to pursue the suspect who was arrested.   By 2009, he had become a hometown celebrity, known nationwide.  He sat next to first lady Michelle Obama during President Obama’s State of the Union address.

But DeCoatsworth’s police career suddenly unraveled.  He was named in several citizen complaints, and was involved in on-duty police-involved shootings and an off-duty scuffle with another officer before he resigned in 2011.

An “open” plea means that prosecutors have not agreed to recommend a lower sentence for DeCoatsworth in exchange for his guilty plea.  He will be sentenced in two weeks.

DeCoatsworth has been behind bars for ten months, separated from the general prison population because he is a former police officer.

His family says their son’s fall was because he was sitting too high. Called a hero and sitting on a pedestal he never should have been on and they say it made him a target.

His father Mark says, “He wanted to do good but he became a target. You got to be careful when you set someone up to be a hero and you knock them down.”

However, prosecutors see it differently. Assistant District Attorney Ashley Lynam says, “The DeCoatsworth family can think whatever they want about this, the fact of the matter is their son just plead guilty to two felony charges and a domestic violence assault.”

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