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Old Forge, Former Police Chief Win Civil Trial

OLD FORGE -- A five-year saga involving the borough of Old Forge and its police and fire departments came to an end inside a federal courtroom in Scranton.

On Tuesday, a jury sided with the borough in a civil case brought by a young woman who accused two police officials and a firefighter of sexual abuse.

Newswatch 16 talked with former Old Forge Police Chief Larry Semenza about the verdict.

Semenza, a former police captain, and the firefighter were also defendants in a criminal trial in 2013.

Firefighter Walter Chiavacci and Captain Jamie Krenitsky pleaded guilty to indecent assault charges.

Larry Semenza always maintained his innocence. He calls the result of the civil trial the vindication he has been waiting for.

"I can go on with my life now. There's no baggage. I can just go on with my life and this is over with. It's closed. Book is closed and on the shelf," said Larry Semenza.

Semenza says he's happy with his life now working for a real estate developer in Old Forge. Still, he says he misses his job as police chief in the same borough.

That career came to an end in 2012 when he, the police captain, and an Old Forge firefighter were accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl a few years prior.

Semenza was convicted in a criminal trial and served a year in prison before his conviction was overturned. He eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of harassment.

"I was fighting for my name, cleared my name in 2013, and I was fighting for my name now, just to clear my name."

We talked to Semenza a day after a federal civil jury cleared him and Old Forge borough of any liability for the alleged abuse.

Five years later, Semenza contends it never happened.

"It's not hard when you're really telling the truth. You know inside you didn't do it so you continue to fight. Everybody's going to have their opinions, I have opinions about different things, everybody will have their opinions. I can't do anything to change that, I know what I did. I know I didn't do anything. I go home and sleep at night, fine, I have no problem with that, people are entitled to their opinions."

Semenza signed an agreement with the Lackawanna County district attorney's office that he would never work in law enforcement again. He plans to maintain that agreement.

And to the girl, now a 27-year-old woman, who accused him, he says he wishes her no ill will.

"I have no hard feelings with anyone. I just want to go on with my life. It is what it is, can't change it so I'm not going to dwell on it."

The civil jury this week did find the former Old Forge firefighter, Walter Chiavacci liable and awarded the victim $20,000, but attorneys for the borough say it's unlikely she will ever see that money because Chiavacci did not have insurance.

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