District Judge Wendy Roberts on Thursday ruled that prosecutors had not presented enough evidence to bring Patrick Raquet, 35, to trial on charges of simple assault and harassment in connection with the alleged attack on the teen. In December, Roberts dismissed more serious charges brought against Raquet in the same case.
Roberts dismissed the latest charges after Raquet’s defense attorney, Arthur Donato Jr., challenged the victim’s testimony and argued that surveillance video of the July 19 attack did not clearly show his client punching the teenager.
At least eight others who have viewed the video — including state troopers, the Delaware County district attorney, Philadelphia government officials, and multiple public defenders — have said it shows Raquet punching the student, who was 17 at the time of the incident.
Glen Mills successfully fought a judge’s order to release the video to the Philadelphia Defender Association. Leonard Hill, an attorney for the teenager, said Glen Mills required him in February to sign a confidentiality agreement that prevents him from sharing the footage or describing it to others.
The hearing came at a critical time for Glen Mills, which has lost its state licences following an Inquirer investigation that exposed a pattern of abuse at the nation’s oldest reform school.
Donato argued that the teenager would have had more serious injuries if Raquet — whom he described as “six-foot-six and 330 pounds of solid rock" — had hit him.
“Although the state trooper involved said he thought the video showed Pat punching that student, the fact is it didn’t show that," Donato said in an interview this week.
Chelsey Price, a spokesperson for Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland, said the district attorney was reviewing notes of testimony from the hearing to determine if charges would be refiled against Raquet.
“Based on the testimony of the victim and the corroborating video evidence, we believe the case should have been held for trial and respectfully disagree with the court’s decision,” said Price.
Pennsylvania State Trooper John Hanosek this week stood by his stance that Raquet is seen hitting the student in the video, which Hanosek cited in the original Sept. 6 charging documents.
Glen Mills fired Raquet and fellow counselor Christopher Medina in July after the school’s investigation into the assault, a decision Glen Mills reaffirmed this week.
“Neither counselor in each of these instances acted within the scope of their duties or in a manner acceptable or in line with the mission of Glen Mills Schools, which is why they were terminated by the school,” spokesperson Aimee Tysarczyk said.
Medina, 32, is alleged to be the main perpetrator of the July attack on the teen, identified by his initials, A.W. The teenager told The Inquirer that Medina lifted him over the back of a couch, then slammed him to the floor. The counselor then choked him with the collar of his sweatshirt while the teen, who has asthma, cried, “I can’t breathe."
Medina dragged him upstairs, where Raquet punched him at least once, A.W. said in court on Thursday: “I couldn’t do nothing. Helpless."
Medina is scheduled for trial May 13 before Delaware County Court Judge Margaret Amoroso. He faces charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, and endangering the welfare of a child. Medina’s attorney, Daniel Armstrong, declined to comment.
Roberts said her decision to drop the charges against Raquet was based on the surveillance footage and A.W.'s testimony. She did not elaborate.
The state Department of Human Services (DHS), which licenses and oversees Glen Mills, concluded its own investigation in late March, finding evidence of “gross incompetence" and “mistreatment and abuse of clients.”
Last week, the Delaware County Daily Times published a statement from Glen Mills attorney Guy Vilim in which he said that the dismissal of Raquet’s charges should be seen as a challenge to the veracity of all former students who said they were abused at the school. Their claims, he said, did not pass the "truth test.”
Glen Mills sought to distance itself from the statement, telling The Inquirer that Glen Mills did not submit the statement. Tysarczyk, the school spokesperson, said the school had asked the Times for a retraction. Times editor Philip Heron said the paper had denied the school’s request to take the statement off its website.
At his office in Media on Monday, Vilim declined to say if he wrote the statement. “You should contact the school,” he said.
“Reports of abuse at Glen Mills do not emanate from one or two allegations but from multiple credible sources – including documented incident reports and the state’s own investigation – which paint a consistent picture of horrific physical and emotional abuse of children,” said Maura McInerney, legal director for Education Law Center PA.