court gavel

PUNXSUTAWNEY — A constable and former candidate for Jefferson County sheriff has been held for trial on charges of indecent assault, official oppression and obstruction of the administration of law or other government function.

Paul J. Pape, 56, of Punxsutawney, remains free on $30,000 unsecured bond after a hearing Wednesday before Punxsutawney Magisterial District Judge Jacqueline J. Mizerock. The state Attorney General’s office said Pape attempted to coerce a woman to have sex with him to avoid arrest.

The hearing originally was scheduled for Oct. 4 but was continued until the day after the general election, in which Pape was the Democratic nominee for Jefferson County sheriff. According to complete but unofficial returns from county officials, Pape was defeated by Republican incumbent Carl J. Gotwald Sr., 7,087 to 1,030.

According to an affidavit filed with Mizerock by Cpl. Kevin Krick of the state police Troop C at Clarion and Craig Senz, a special agent with the Office of Attorney General, Pape “knows what he did is inappropriate.” Pape was quoted in the affidavit as saying “he screwed up.”

The affidavit quoted the woman as saying her father told her about a June 9 warrant for her arrest, after which she contacted Pape. The affidavit said Pape planned to travel to Butler to pick her up and then drive her to DuBois, which “she believed (to be) a friendly gesture and not the defendant acting in his official capacity as constable.”

On Aug. 10, the affidavit said, she “was picked up by the defendant,” but driven to his home in Punxsutawney, where he told her “if she would have sex with him, he would make her warrant disappear.”

Circumstances, including the woman going to a hospital Aug. 12 and not being able to meet with Pape as he had arranged, led to her being arrested by Jefferson County Probation on Aug. 15. At that time, authorities said, the woman told probation officers about her contact with Pape.

At the time of Pape’s arrest, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said his office believed there may be other victims, and asked them to call his office’s hotline at (833) 937-1036. However, court records show no other charges against Pape in Jefferson County courts.