Former Philadelphia cop charged with rape pleads to lesser charges

Feb. 26, 2014 at 12:53 AM   |   Comments

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- A former Philadelphia police officer who sat with Michelle Obama during a presidential speech after being shot in the face pleaded guilty to assault Tuesday.

Richard DeCoatsworth, 28, faces seven to 14 years in prison when he is sentenced in March, WCAU-TV reported. Prosecutors have not said what sentence they will seek and he could get much less time.

DeCoatsworth became a hero in 2007 when he helped arrest a man who shot him in the face during a traffic stop. In February 2009, the first lady invited him to sit with her while President Obama addressed Congress.

But DeCoatsworth retired on disability in 2008. Last year, he was arrested on a long list of charges including rape and held in lieu of $3 million bail.

DeCoatsworth pleaded guilty to greatly reduced charges. Assistant District Attorney Ashley Lynam said prosecutors did not want to put his alleged victims through a trial.

"Richard DeCoatsworth entered an open guilty plea today," Lynam said. "He pled guilty to distributing heroin to individuals, to victimizing women and promoting prostitution and also to assaulting his longtime girlfriend."

Chuck Peruto, DeCoatsworth's lawyer, said his client's problems stemmed from an addiction to painkillers after the shooting.

"He really has had time to reflect for the past 10 months," Peruto said.

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