Former Philadelphia police officer Patrick Heron, 54, pleaded guilty on Friday to numerous sex crimes involving young women. He was sentenced to 15 to 40 years in state prison. Heron reached an agreement with prosecutors ahead of a trial on over 200 criminal offenses, including child sex assault and kidnapping, which occurred between 2005 and 2022.
Heron, who retired from the Philadelphia Police Department in 2019 after working there from 1995 to 2008 and then from 2010 to 2019, was charged with unlawful sexual contact with young girls, producing explicit photographs involving young girls, and retaliation and harassment against victims and witnesses.
Investigators stated that Heron targeted vulnerable victims, including girls struggling with drug addiction, those who had run away from home, or had been arrested. He often sexually assaulted them while wearing his police uniform and in the back of his patrol vehicle.
The guilty plea came after prosecutors revealed that Heron could have faced up to 1,300 years behind bars if found guilty on all the counts he faced. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office welcomed the plea, stating that it would spare the victims the trauma of a trial.
Heron’s attorney, Anthony List, also acknowledged the benefits of the plea for the victims, as they would no longer have to endure traumatic testimonies. So far, investigators have identified 48 victims, but the number could potentially be higher as some women may not have come forward.
During the court hearing, Heron did not address the charges. He will be required to do so at a later date.