SCRANTON — A police chief in Lackawanna County spent his day in court.
Suspended Scott Township Chief James Romano still faces all but one of the criminal charges against him after his preliminary hearing Friday.
Romano is accused of having a sexual relationship with a witness in a child sex abuse case and then asking the witness to cover it up. At the hearing Friday, a judge threw out a charge of tampering with evidence.
But, the chief is still accused of serious crimes and now he’s headed to trial.
With their hands full, toting boxes full of evidence and documents, agents and prosecutors from the state Attorney General’s Office left the Lackawanna County Courthouse after a hearing that lasted four and a half hours.
It happened in the same courtroom where Scott Township Police Chief James Romano stood in uniform back in March. And, where he allegedly started a relationship with a 20-year-old woman who was at that hearing.
Romano now faces felony charges for allegedly having sex with that woman.
She came into the picture when she claimed to be a victim of sexual abuse in a case against Lakeland High School music teacher Matthew Stevens. Stevens was charged earlier this year for allegedly having sex with a student. Lackawanna County prosecutors say Stevens’ trial is on hold for now while Romano’s case is in court.
At Friday’s hearing, the young woman explained she was prepared to testify against the teacher. But, in the meantime, started a sexual relationship with one of the investigators, Chief Romano.
But, Romano asked her to keep it all a secret until after the teacher’s trial.
Prosecutors went through hundreds of texts between the woman and the chief. She sent, “It just sucked, I feel used and cheap.”
Romano replied: “For that I am sorry, but remember the secret thing is really important right now.”
Prosecutors say trying to keep the relationship secret is the crime. Romano’s charged with solicitation to bribe a witness and intimidation of a witness.
But, defense attorneys said it was never definite that this woman was ever going to be a witness and the charges against Romano don’t hold up.
Lackawanna County prosecutors are set to take Lakeland High School teacher Matthew Stevens to trial but that’s on hold for now because of the charges against Romano.
No word on when either of the men will stand trial.
Romano is currently suspended without pay from the Scott Township Police Department.