Officer placed on unpaid leave
JOHNSTOWN – Suspended city police officer Adam Schwabrow, accused of statutory rape in a case involving a teenage girl, appeared in City Court on Thursday and was placed on unpaid administrative leave for 30 days.
His City Court case also was adjourned until Nov. 21. Acting City Court Judge Lisa Lorman set Schwabrow’s next court appearance for 9 a.m. that day.
The judge said there is still an order of protection for the alleged victim in this case. Police are declining to get into specifics about the case, including how the officer knows the alleged victim or whether the alleged sexual activity took place while Schwabrow was on duty.
Schwabrow was arrested Sept. 19, charged by his own Police Department with third-degree rape, commonly known as statutory rape, a felony. If convicted, he faces the possibility of 1 1/3 to four years in state prison.
Since his arrest, he had been on paid suspension from the department.
City police Chief Mark Gifford said previously Schwabrow was arrested after an investigation revealed evidence he had sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl sometime over the past year and a half.
Schwabrow is free on $5,000 cash bail.
Gifford said effective Thursday, Schwabrow was put on administrative leave for 30 calendar days without pay.
Schwabrow is a former Johnstown Police Benevolent Association president and the department’s current K-9 handler.
The defendant had been collecting pay since his arrest, but the chief said that was only because of a “logistical situation” involving his department. He said his department had to contact city labor attorney Elayne Gold. He said it “takes time and paperwork” to suspend a public employee without pay, and he didn’t have the ability to do so at the time of the arrest.
Gold said Thursday Schwabrow works under the terms of his PBA police union contract. She said he couldn’t be put on leave without pay unless he was formally served with a notice of discipline, which occurred Thursday.
The 32-year-old Schwabrow was placed on unpaid leave from his other job as director of the Montgomery County Emergency Management Office on Sept. 24.
He appeared in court Thursday morning with attorney Michael McDermott of the Albany-based law firm O’Connell and Aronowitz.
“The attorneys indicated we’re not at a point where we can talk about a resolution,” Lorman stated.
Lorman, normally the assistant Amsterdam City Court judge, presided over the short appearance. Also appearing was special prosecutor Jennifer Buckley, a Saratoga County assistant district attorney.
Johnstown City Court Judge Thomas Walsh and Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira recused themselves from the case.
After Schwabrow’s arrest, Sira said the alleged crime took place in the city of Johnstown. She said there has been no allegation or evidence of forced sexual contact between Schwabrow and the alleged victim. She said forced sexual contact typically falls under the category of first-degree rape, which has not been charged in this case. She explained that people younger than the age of 17 in New York state cannot legally consent to sexual contact with an adult.
After Thursday’s court appearance, Schwabrow was fingerprinted and processed at the Police Department downstairs at City Hall. He left the building through the special police-only exit and quickly went to his car.
Speaking outside City Hall to area media, McDermott said Thursday’s short court proceeding was a “status appearance” to see where the litigants are in the case.
“He’s entered a plea of not guilty,” the defense attorney said. “Other than that, I’m not going to get into any elements of the case.”
McDermott added it is a “difficult time, obviously” for Schwabrow. He characterized the criminal charges against his client as “a very vague allegation from two years ago.”
After the proceeding, the defendant’s father, Dwight Schwabrow, waited downstairs in City Hall with an unidentified clergyman. At one point, the father was allowed into the usually locked police department to talk to his son.
Outside of City Hall, Dwight Schwabrow said of his son, “He’s doing OK. We’re giving him support.”
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at email@example.com.