Clearfield Borough Councilman Accused of Assaulting, Threatening Girlfriend Headed for Trial

CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield Borough Councilman accused of assaulting and threatening to kill his girlfriend had all charges held for court by Magisterial District Judge James Hawkins after a preliminary hearing during Centralized Court on Wednesday at the Clearfield County Jail.

Richard Dean Stewart, 46, of Clearfield will stand trial on charges of terroristic threats, simple assault, disorderly conduct and harassment. The charges stem from an alleged domestic assault that occurred Aug. 5 at an East Market Street apartment.

The alleged victim testified first on behalf of the commonwealth. At approximately 10 p.m. on the night in question, she said she and Stewart engaged in an argument over a pool party he planned to attend. When she inquired about the date and time, she said Stewart became “irate,” yelling that she didn’t need to know.

According to her, the couple’s argument started in their living room, and she jumped onto the couch to try to get away from Stewart. However, she said he grabbed her by the arm, throwing her to the floor. She said Stewart told her if she asked about his plans again, he’d throw her out, find her and kill her.

After that the alleged victim retreated to a bedroom where she said Stewart threatened to kill her if she went to the police or posted anything on Facebook. She said she jumped onto their bed but he threw her down and put both of his hands around her throat. The alleged victim also said that Stewart struck her in her facial area at least twice while he had her pinned down.

When asked by District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr., the alleged victim testified that Stewart told her: “Don’t bother going to the police. I’m on borough council; I own the police.” Stewart, she said, threatened to tell people that he didn’t cause her any physical harm and she inflicted injuries upon herself.

After Stewart left the apartment, the alleged victim said she went to the Clearfield Borough police station. When no one answered the buzzer, she called 9-1-1, which dispatched officers to the scene. At the time, she said Stewart was watching her from outside of the Clearfield Borough offices.

She said Stewart drove off and she went back to their apartment to meet with police. Upon police arrival, she said she was taken by ambulance to the emergency department at Clearfield Penn Highlands for treatment of eye injuries.

The next day, the alleged victim said she met with a representative from Crossroads. Afterward, she returned to the hospital for chest pain, at which point she was prescribed medication for stress and anxiety. The alleged victim noted she still suffered from soreness due to the assault incident.

When asked by Shaw, the alleged victim testified to fearing for her life when Stewart was threatening her on Aug. 5. She said she was still afraid that Stewart would hurt her.

Under cross-examination by defense attorney Chris Pentz, the alleged victim agreed that the couple’s argument was “loud and excited.” She said it might have lasted 15-20 minutes and she yelled for help but no one responded from neighboring apartments.

When asked why she didn’t just leave the apartment after being threatened by Stewart, she explained that there was only one exit. She said Stewart stood in her way and she was in fear because of his threats. When asked why she didn’t retreat to the bathroom, she explained she didn’t’ want to be “trapped” with Stewart.

Officer John Brown of the Clearfield Borough police was on duty and responded to the alleged domestic assault. Upon arrival he encountered the alleged victim who was “hysterical and crying.” Brown said the alleged victim had clearly visible injuries, and he wanted her to seek medical treatment.

Officer Jake Rhymestine was also on duty the night in question. Because Stewart left the scene, he started canvasing the area for his vehicle. Rhymestine said he was contacted by County Control, which had received a call from Stewart. Stewart wouldn’t give his location and wanted police to contact him.

Rhymestine called Stewart, who said he had a verbal altercation with his girlfriend. He advised he didn’t do anything physically to hurt her, and any injuries she might have were self-inflicted. Rhymestine directed Stewart to report to the borough police station to meet with Brown.

Rhymestine proceeded to the East Market Street apartment, where he observed injuries on the alleged victim’s face. He said the alleged victim was being taken to the hospital and he responded to photograph her injuries and to collect her written statement.

Brown said after the alleged victim was taken to the hospital, he returned to the borough police station to meet with Stewart. He said Stewart claimed he was trying to throw his girlfriend out of their apartment and it got crazy and out of hand. Brown said Stewart denied causing any physical injuries and claimed his girlfriend somehow injured herself.

In closing, Pentz argued the commonwealth’s case didn’t support the charge of terroristic threats. He said Stewart’s threats were made during the “heat of an argument.” Shaw countered, saying Stewart made multiple threats toward the alleged victim on the night in question.

Hawkins said he agreed with the commonwealth and held all charges to the Court of Common Pleas. When he indicated bail would remain the same, Shaw pointed out the alleged victim had a protection from abuse order in place.

Shaw argued that Stewart wasn’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol on the night of the alleged domestic assault. He said Stewart threatened to kill the alleged victim and it should be taken very seriously. Shaw requested bail be set appropriately to protect the alleged victim.

Pentz pointed out that Stewart hadn’t caused the alleged victim any harm since posting his bail. He said if Stewart really wanted to harm her, he would have by now.

Hawkins said he would leave bail the same at $10,000 monetary. However, he sternly warned Stewart, who posted bail on Aug. 6, not to have any contact with the alleged victim. Shaw asked Hawkins if Stewart’s bail could be supervised, as he wanted to protect the alleged victim as much as possible.

Pentz argued against Stewart’s bail being supervised, as he’s neither contacted the alleged victim by letters, text messages, etc., nor directed any further threats toward her. Hawkins advised Shaw that he could make a request for supervised bail with the Court of Common Pleas. Police Blotter
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