June 14, 2024

A former Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney has been arrested on charges related to his exchange of sexual favors for legal services.

Police, in conjunction with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, charged Corey Kolcharno, 47 of Peckville, with four counts of Promoting Prostitution, a grade three felony, following an investigation which claims wrongdoing as far back as 2013.

Kolcharno served as Lackawanna County’s Assistant District Attorney (ADA) for six years, from 2005 to 2011, before returning to private practice in Blakely. It is in his capacity as a private practice lawyer Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) alleges the crimes occurred.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, Kolcharno allegedly “…sexually violated four female women at various locations in and around Lackawanna County while he was representing them, their significant others or family members.” The document alleges this sexual exploitation served as a means of payment for Kolcharno’s legal services.

The exploited clients, states the affidavit, had a history of drug addiction, sexual abuse or other vulnerabilities. The document alleges Kolcharno exploited these vulnerabilities to obtain nude photos or sex acts from the women.

“Corey Kolcharno systematically exploited the vulnerabilities of his victims, who struggled with addiction and had a history of being sexually abused, for his own sexual gratification,” said Shapiro in a press release. “Kolcharno picked these victims because they had limited choices, because he thought they would be easy to silence, and less likely to be believed if they ever came forward. As Attorney General, I will stand up for people who need a voice in our Commonwealth.”

Kolcharno allegedly, “…would initiate contact with these women by speaking about their legal matters,” states the affidavit. “He would then further the conversation by complimenting them about their physical appearance and if the Victim did not outwardly rebuff his advances, he then would request nude photographs and/or worn undergarments in lieu of payment for legal services, or for money provided in person or through electronic means. He would then transition into requesting sex acts in exchange for legal services or payment.”

Court papers state police retrieved “…hundreds of nude or sexually explicit images of Kolcharno’s female clients.” The document continues, “While the victims involved had little-to-no knowledge of each other their complaints are strikingly similar when detailing Kolcharno’s criminal course of conduct.”

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Survivor Advocate Michele Minor Wolf, Executive Director of the Victim’s Intervention Program of Wayne and Pike Counties, identified the behaviors listed in the affidavit as predatory. “He knew these women were in vulnerable situations,” she said, “He used his power and influence to pressure these women.”

“These are four women who came forward. I wonder how many more there are,” Wolf added, noting that in sexual assault cases there are frequently more survivors than those who come forward. She expressed hope that, should other women have been similarly victimized, the publicity of this arrest might bring them forward.

Kolcharno’s alleged offenses took place in 2013 and in multiple instances at various points of time between 2018 and 2022. Each of the women whose statements include the criminal complaint alleges Kolcharno initiated the aforementioned inappropriate behaviors more than once.

The affidavit mentions numerous instances where Kolcharno allegedly paid as much as $500 or reduced a legal bill by $500 to engage his clients in sexual intercourse. Further allegations listed in the document include Kolcharno groping or otherwise physically violating clients without their permission and then handing them various sums of money.

One of the women interviewed in the affidavit told police she only submitted herself to a second alleged encounter because she felt “…as though there was no escape after the first encounter.”

Court papers state another woman told police she felt compelled to acquiesce to the alleged exploitation because “…she had no choice because she could not afford to make regular payments.”

According to the affidavit, this same survivor told her boyfriend at the time about the alleged abuses. He, in turn, relayed the allegations to Officer Jason Hyler of the Scranton Police Department Street Crime Unit during an unrelated police interview. “This interview occurred before this investigation began,” states the affidavit, noting it was used to corroborate the survivor’s story.

The Tri-County Independent attempted to contact Officer Hyler to ask if that interview played a role in initiating the later investigation into Kolcharno’s alleged misdeeds. The attempt was unsuccessful as of the time of writing.

“The Pennsylvania State Police is committed to investigating every allegation of sexual misconduct,” said PSP Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy Richard, Deputy Commissioner of Operations, in a press release. “Cases like this often present great difficulty for the victims and require an enormous amount of courage for the victims to come forward.”

Kolcharno was arraigned on Monday, August 8 by Magisterial District Judge Alyce Hailstone Farrell. Bail was set at $20,000.

This article originally appeared on Tri-County Independent: Lackawanna lawyer arrested for promoting prostitution, abusing clients

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