FORMER MONTGOMERY County Republican boss Bob Kerns has been held for trial on charges he drugged then twice raped a defenseless woman following a work party in October.

A Chester County judge yesterday upheld all charges against Kerns following his preliminary hearing, after the judge who was originally slated to hear arguments recused himself.

Prosecutors allege Kerns offered the 51-year-old victim a ride home, slipped a sleep-inducing drug into her wine and then assaulted her in his car while she was passed out and again later that night at her home.

Assistant District Attorney Samantha Cauffman said she presented hospital records and injury photographs as evidence of the "brutal" attack on the woman, who was an employee at Kerns' suburban law firm at the time. Both the victim and the lead detective on the case testified.

"She was very credible, composed, but emotional at times," said Cauffman.

"This is a traumatic event that happened to her. To have to remember it and talk about it in front of a room full of people is very difficult at times."

Cauffman said the woman was unconscious at the time and that the second alleged assault at the woman's home was "not the same degree of severity as the assault prior, in the car."

A 23-page grand jury report describes Kerns, 66, as preying on a woman who was in a compromised state. It alleges Kerns left bruises, bite and scratch marks on her body, and cash on her kitchen counter as a form of hush money. In the trunk of his car, detectives found pink duct tape, KY warming gel and a bottle of Grey Goose vodka. Police reportedly found his DNA on the woman's underwear.

"I really want to give a lot of credit to this woman for coming forward," said Cauffman.

"She's been so brave in this process."

Kerns is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 29 at 9:30 a.m. for his formal arraignment.

His attorney, Brian McMonagle, had asked for all charges to be dropped. He did not return calls seeking comment late yesterday.

On Twitter: @RuffTuffDH