Posted at: 09/20/2013 5:01 PM
Updated at: 03/04/2014 5:08 PM
By: Steve Flamisch
Photo: File / WNYT
JOHNSTOWN -- A city police officer who doubles as Montgomery County's emergency management director is accused of having sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl, authorities said Friday. The age of consent in New York is 17.
Adam Schwabrow, 32, was arrested at the police station Thursday night on a single count of rape in the third-degree, authorities said. He could face up to four years in state prison if convicted.
"It's to say the least an embarrassing day for this agency, but the police officers that work here are not above the law," Police Chief Mark Gifford said. He confirmed that Schwabrow is married and has children, though he was unsure of how many.
Gifford declined to say how Schwabrow met the 16-year-old or where the alleged sexual contact took place. He would only say that it happened within the last year-and-a-half, and that the department learned of it this week.
District Attorney Louise Sira said there is no allegation of "forcible sexual conduct." However, it is against the law in New York for anyone 21 years or older to have sex with a person under the age of 17.
"While sexual contact between parties might be voluntary, it is prohibited by law," Sira said.
Sira said there is no information suggesting that any of the alleged sexual contact took place while Schwabrow was on duty, but she noted that the investigation was continuing.
NEIGHBOR, FRIEND STUNNED
Schwabrow, who was released on $5,000 cash bail, did not respond to email or telephone inquiries seeking comment. A woman who answered the door at his home Friday evening closed the door when she saw reporters.
Down the block, neighbor Wright Smith said he was shocked to learn of the rape charge against Schwabrow.
"He always seemed like a really decent guy," Smith told a NewsChannel 13 reporter. "What you told me is very surprising to me. He's got a couple of small kids. His wife is very pleasant."
Stuie Van Nostrand, who works at the Miss Johnstown Diner across the street from the police station, said Schwabrow frequently talks about his wife and family when he comes in to eat.
Van Nostrand said he doesn't believe "one bit" of the allegation.
"I don't believe he would jeopardize his family life for this," he said. "I think it's a set-up. I think something happened and somebody is getting back at him."
Schwabrow, a K9 officer with close to ten years of service to the Johnstown Police Department, was suspended with pay, Chief Gifford said. Additional disciplinary action may follow, pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
Two officials in Montgomery County said Schwabrow was placed on administrative leave from his post as the county's part-time emergency management director. He was appointed last fall after his father, Dwight, retired from the job.
Schwabrow is also a past chief of the Mohawk Volunteer Fire Department in Fonda, though his status with the department was unclear late Friday.
Schwabrow is due back in city court at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday. Sira, the district attorney, said the court will recuse itself and adjourn because it is handling cases in which Schwabrow was the arresting officer.
Sira said she will recuse herself for the same reason, and that she will request the assignment of a special prosecutor.