Priest Charged with Sexual Assault
By Joe Nixon
Morning Call [Allentown, PA]
August 7, 1999
A priest who taught for decades at Malvern Preparatory School in Chester County has been charged with sexually assaulting one of his male students eight years ago at a residence in Tobyhanna Township, Monroe County.
Monroe County District Attorney Mark Pazuhanich on Friday said counts of rape and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse were filed July 22 against Rev. Richard J. Cochrane, now 54. The priest, who police said left Malvern in December 1998, was supposed to surrender to Pocono Mountain Regional Police late Friday afternoon and be arraigned.
Police charged Rev. Cochrane gave beer to a 14-year-old male student at a home in the Timber Trails subdivision in Tobyhanna on a night in June 1991, and then allegedly showed the teen a pornographic movie. Sometime during the night, according to the affidavit in the case, Rev. Cochrane allegedly fondled the youth and performed a sex act on him.
"This has been an ongoing investigation that was first brought to our attention through the Chester County district attorney's office and through two of their detectives, who we believe were put onto this from authorities at Malvern Prep School," Pazuhanich said.
Pazuhanich said Rev. Cochrane was in Canada at the time Monroe officials filed the charges and was under surveillance there. An arrest was delayed because he was scheduled to return to the United States, which he did late last week, Pazuhanich said. "He was to be residing in Philadelphia, but no longer at Malvern Prep, at least according to our information," he said.
Officials would not comment on why Rev. Cochrane was in Canada. Pazuhanich said Rev. Cochrane taught at Malvern for about 25 years.
"There is a continuing investigation going on as to whether or not this is an isolated incident or not ... I know the school is making efforts to contact former students, alert them to this situation, with the possibility that there may be others out there."
Pazuhanich said the fact that the suspect is a priest may have some kind of media value, but said it didn't mean anything to the prosecution. "This case will be prosecuted just like any other case. We're determined to see that happen," he said.
Prosecutors were up against a time deadline to file the charges. Pazuhanich said the statute of limitations on the felony counts was 10 years.
According to the affidavit, Rev. John E. Deegan, Prior Provincial of the Augustinian Order, said Rev. Cochrane admitted to having the victim at the Tobyhanna house and serving him alcohol.
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