Former Philadelphia Police Officer Sentenced to 15-40 Years for Sexual Abuse and Related Crimes

Patrick Heron

Former Philadelphia police officer Patrick Heron, facing more than 1,300 years in prison on over 200 criminal charges related to sexual abuse of children and women, entered a guilty plea to lesser charges on Friday. He was subsequently sentenced to 15 to 40 years of incarceration, marking a significant reduction from the potential life sentence he faced.

Heron, 54, pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful contact with a minor, two counts of sexual abuse of children, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, official oppression, kidnapping of a minor, indecent assault, forgery, and stalking. These charges stemmed from five criminal cases brought against him by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU).

The accusations against Heron spanned over a decade and included allegations of sexual abuse and assault against numerous women and girls. Prosecutors also claimed that he took explicit photos and videos of his victims without their consent, sometimes while in uniform and on duty. Furthermore, Heron was accused of attempting to intimidate witnesses to shield his crimes from other law enforcement officials.

The investigation into Heron’s activities involved the seizure of digital images and videos from accounts connected to him. Some of these materials depicted Heron engaging in abusive conduct with women and girls inside his patrol vehicle. The evidence also included a video shown during a procedural hearing, in which Heron encouraged a woman to use drugs before sexually assaulting her.

Heron had been in custody on child sex assault charges in June when additional charges were brought against him, covering incidents from 2005 to 2019. Following these new charges, a judge ordered him held without bail, revoking his $2 million bail.

Had Heron been convicted of the 218 criminal charges filed against him by the Commonwealth at trial, he could have faced more than 1,300 years in prison. However, by entering a guilty plea on charges representing each of the joined criminal cases, Heron received a significantly reduced sentence of 15 to 40 years of incarceration, imposed by Judge Giovanni Campbell.

The Special Investigations Unit Supervisor, Lyandra Retacco, expressed satisfaction with the conviction, as it spared the victims and witnesses the ordeal of a jury trial. Survivors who were prepared to testify against Heron expressed relief that he was being held accountable and could no longer harm others.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner emphasized the need to address systemic failures within law enforcement that allowed Heron’s crimes to go unreported and unchecked for so long. He underscored the importance of supporting survivors and rectifying these failures within the criminal justice system.

Chris Morris
Author: Chris Morris

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