Leechburg Mayor-elect Shawn Lerch charged with assaulting stepson

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The mayor-elect of Leechburg was arraigned today on charges he assaulted his stepson Thursday night.

Shawn L. Lerch, 38, is facing charges of simple assault and harassment after the incident at his home in the borough. An attorney is not listed in court records, and Mr. Lerch could not be reached.

He was released from the Armstrong County Jail this morning after posting bond. The stepson filed a petition for a protection-from-abuse order, a court clerk said.

Chuck Pascal, a former Leechburg mayor and Mr. Lerch's attorney, said the charges won't bar his client, a current borough councilman, from taking office in January.

"From my perspective, it's a relatively minor family matter that resulted in these charges," Mr. Pascal said. "Like any family matter, I think it will eventually be resolved in a way that's favorable for everybody."

Several other borough council members whose numbers were listed in a 2012 directory of Armstrong County municipal officials could not be reached for comment.

Damien Keys, 18, told police his stepfather came home intoxicated, started arguing with his wife and called his mother-in-law a name around 10:30 p.m., borough police Officer Mark Pollick wrote in a criminal complaint. When Mr. Keys objected, Mr. Lerch stood nose-to-nose with him, according to the complaint.

Mr. Lerch's wife, Leigh Anne Lerch, and Mr. Keys told police Mr. Lerch put his hand on Mr. Keys' neck and slammed him to the ground, Officer Pollick wrote.

Mr. Lerch told police he'd had a few beers, went home and started to argue with his wife. He said he called his mother-in-law a name, the officer wrote, and when Mr. Keys stood up to ask why, he put his hands on his stepson's chest and pushed him to the ground.

The officer wrote that upon arrival, he took a .22-caliber revolver and a knife from Mr. Lerch. 

Police arrested Mr. Lerch and took him to the borough police station. He told Officer Pollick "that there would be repercussion," the officer wrote in the complaint.

First Published November 15, 2013 3:22 PM

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