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Center City lawyer charged with having sex with 14-year-old girl

The traumatized girl in the Special Victims Unit in March described a sex-trafficking underworld that stretched from Germantown to Georgia.

Attorney Brian Meehan had sex with 14 year old human traffic victim in law firm conference room during work hours, prosecutors say.
Attorney Brian Meehan had sex with 14 year old human traffic victim in law firm conference room during work hours, prosecutors say.Read more

The traumatized girl in the Special Victims Unit in March described a sex-trafficking underworld that stretched from Germantown to Georgia.

The teenager said her captors had threatened to kill her if she ran from their home on a modest Northwest Philadelphia block. She said they had forced her, age 14, to have sex with as many as seven men a day.

She didn't know most of the men's names - but she could name one for certain, a Center City lawyer she knew as "Meehan."

The girl remembered where he worked: "a big building near City Hall."

The now-16-year-old described the layout of the office - including the 12th-floor conference room, which locked from the inside. That's where, prosecutors say, "Meehan" had sex with her numerous times.

Those details would lead to lawyer Brian Meehan's arrest Tuesday on a host of sex-crime charges.

District Attorney Seth Williams said Meehan, 56, had told the girl he knew she was 14 and he liked having sex with young girls. Their encounters often happened at his firm at One Penn Center, according to a grand jury indictment.

Williams said Meehan, of Berwyn, told the girl he had also had sex with a 12-year-old.

"There is a special place in hell for people like Brian Meehan," Williams told reporters.

The charges, prosecutors said, are just one piece of a wide-ranging investigation into the operation that ensnared the 14-year-old Germantown girl and at least four other females who were kept in a ground-floor apartment at 21 Harvey St., also in Germantown.

The couple who allegedly ran that brothel was charged with human trafficking in May. A separate grand jury investigation into the couple's alleged wrongdoings is continuing.

Meehan, who is married and has three daughters, turned himself in to police Tuesday, Williams said. He was charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, and other crimes. He was awaiting arraignment Tuesday night.

He was fired from Bishop, Dorfman, Kroupa & Bishop - a firm that once also bore his name - after investigators raided the offices in October. Prosecutors said the firm and other building employees, including two doormen, were cooperating with the grand jury. Efforts to reach officials at Bishop Dorfman were unsuccessful Tuesday.

"We are currently reviewing the grand jury presentment, and my client denies these allegations and maintains his innocence," said Meehan's attorney, Fortunato N. Perri Jr.

Meehan's arrest came after a lengthy investigation that included assistance from federal investigators in other states, Williams said, and stretched almost two years.

In March 2012, a Germantown woman reported her 14-year-old daughter missing after she didn't come home from school. That was because the girl had come under the influence of a neighborhood couple, Robert Harris, now 23, and Shante Fenning, now 26.

Harris would later tell police he had noticed the girl outside a high school and introduced her to Fenning.

Afterward, the two forced her into prostitution.

For a month, the girl told police, Harris and Fenning kept her captive, beat her, and threatened her and her family. They kept her under constant watch, the girl told police.

Harris and Fenning, whom The Inquirer was able to identify through court documents, have been in custody since May on charges of trafficking, prostitution, assault, and other offenses.

The girl told police that about a month later, she was sold to a man in Camden for $600. Fenning, according to court documents, needed the cash to fix her car.

While in Camden, the girl was taken to a hospital with injuries from sexual abuse. She told an emergency room nurse that Fenning had forced her into prostitution, but Fenning sent someone to pick her up before police arrived.

Back in Philadelphia, another pimp forced her to work out of Roosevelt Boulevard and Atlantic City hotels.

Then she was recruited by a pimp who took her to Georgia. Once there, she managed to text a relative, and federal authorities found her in May 2012. Charged in connection with stolen checks, she spent two years in custody in Georgia before Philadelphia investigators were able to interview her in March.

The investigation soon focused on Meehan. He had represented Fenning and Harris in two unrelated court cases, and Fenning identified him in a photo array as "the lawyer to whom she sold these girls," according to the indictment.

The teenage victim told the grand jury disturbing details of her encounters with Meehan at his office - he offered her alcohol, which she refused, and Irish potato candy that his wife had made for his coworkers. He talked of family trips, even suggesting that the two might travel together.

Some in the building saw Meehan bringing women into his office, Williams said.

"I guess they wanted to believe, this is a guy who was bringing women up to his office, but did not want to believe they were juveniles - did not want to believe they were turning a blind eye to something as heinous as that," Williams said.

In October, investigators raided Meehan's office, recovering forensic evidence from 12th-floor conference room.

Assistant District Attorney Meghan Goodard, who is prosecuting the case, said the girl "suffered terrible emotional and physical trauma."

"The road to recovery from something like this is a long road, but she's on that road," Goddard said.