Tuesday, February 14, 2017

D.A.'s Office Under Seth Williams Won't Prosecute Domestic Violence

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

On Nov. 22, 2015, Timothy Cohen, 38, of West Philadelphia, a patron at the Liberty Bar, put a hat on the head of a female bar employee.

Cohen then allegedly used the strings from the hat to strangle the victim “to a point where she could not breathe or scream,” according to a police affidavit of probable cause. 

"She struggled with Cohen," the affidavit says, until he "let go and left the premises." Cohen had also gone on Facebook and made “threatening posts” against the victim, according to the affidavit.

The victim was treated at Penn Presbyterian Hospital later that day for a sprained cervical column. But when the cops sent a probable cause affidavit over to the district attorney's office, the D.A. declined to charge the suspect, citing "insufficient evidence." 

The D.A.'s office told the police they needed to obtain photos of the victim's injuries, a copy of the defendant’s phone records and his voice mails. The D.A.'s office also wanted to know if there were any witnesses at the bar who may have seen the incident.

Cohen, according to police records, was not charged for the assault. 

The district attorney's office declined to discuss the case.

The cops say that many of the cases that the D.A.'s office under Seth Williams has declined to prosecute involve domestic violence, typically involving women. But in Philadelphia, when men are the victims of domestic violence, the result is often the same; this D.A. won’t press charges.

Take a three day period last December, where the D.A. declined to charge three different suspects in three different domestic violence cases.

On Dec. 8, 2016, officers responding to a report of a person with a gun, went to the intersection of 52nd and Haverford Avenues in Philadelphia and found “a male lying on the highway suffering from a gunshot wound to the right side of his body.

Police rushed Lawrence Gilliam, 49, of Upper Darby, PA, to Presbyterian Hospital where he was “immediately taken to surgery,” police records state. A suspect in the shooting, the cops said, was observed visiting the victim in his hospital room.

Gilliam’s wife, Kanem Gilliam, 45, of Yeadon, PA, subsequently confessed to police that she shot her husband with a .38 special revolver that she kept in her bedroom.

But later that night, the district attorney’s office declined to prosecute Gilliam because of “insufficient probable cause,” and “insufficient evidence.” 

The video of the shooting incident was “very unclear,” an assistant D.A. stated. The assistant D.A. also asked the cops to obtain the wife’s phone records.

Kanem Gilliam, according to police records, was not charged for shooting her husband.

The D.A.'s office declined to discuss the case.

A day after the Gilliam case, on Dec. 9, 2016, police responded to a radio call and found Juan Soto holding a towel to his head “where he was bleeding profusely from a laceration. Soto told the police that his girlfriend, Angela Lagarex, “struck him in the head with the leg of a wooden chair causing the laceration.”
The cops took Soto to Temple University Hospital, where he required multiple staples to close a severe head wound. But the District Attorney declined to prosecute the case, citing insufficient probable cause, and insufficient evidence.

Lagarex, according to police records, was not charged for assaulting her husband.

The D.A.'s office declined to discuss the case.

A day after Soto was taken to the hospital, on Dec. 10, 2016, the district attorney declined to prosecute another domestic violence incident. This time, the cops had to break down a door because they could hear a woman’s "repeated screams," according to police records. The cops rushed upstairs to “observe the offender striking the complainant multiple times,” police records state.

But the district attorney declined to prosecute the case because the victim wouldn’t give a statement, and because the D.A. wanted more information from the cops.

“We’ve been working really hard to charge more of these” domestic abuse cases, Deputy District Attorney Barry said. But you need a cooperating witness to have probable cause, Barry said. And in many domestic abuse cases, the victims are not willing to cooperate.

The district attorney’s office, however, declined to discuss the case where the officers had to break down the door to stop an assault.

Cops will tell you that the reason this D.A. 's office wouldn't charge anything but a slam-dunk case was that Seth Williams was trying to pad his statistics for the May 16th Democratic primary, so he could show voters a lower crime rate and a higher conviction rate.

"We understand there is an election going on but it really doesn’t affect what we’re doing," Barry said before his boss announced last week that he wouldn't seek a third term.

"We're not doing anything because in every case we have to feel comfortable that we have the right crime [charged] and the right evidence," Barry said.


  1. Can the City of Philadelphia be held liable for those that suffered due to the the DA's refusal to press charges ?

  2. My sarcastic side is wondering how many cases Barry handled as a homicide prosecutor where the decedent acted as a cooperating witness and provided a statement.

    But really, this is an interesting quote by Barry given the Pennsylvania Crimes Codes. Specifically, § 2711 Probable Cause Arrests In Domestic Violence Cases. Here, the statute provides that a police officer has probable to arrest a subject when there is observable “physical injury” and other “corroborative evidence” where a number of enumerated crimes have been committed including Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault and Recklessly Endangering Another Person just to name a few.

    In the first Soto case, police officers observed physical injuries and overheard a statement by the victim.

    In the second Soto case, police officers heard “repeated screams” and “observed the offender strike the complainant multiple times…”

    Either Barry is ignorant of the Crimes Code – which is possible. But it is more likely that Barry has adopted the posture of the District Attorney’s Office that a police officer’s testimony is not sufficient nor credible direct evidence alone. The bottom line is that these cases could have been prosecuted with the police officers, with or without the victim, as the police witnessed the assault.

    Just wondering how Barry would feel if his police officer father was treated as an incredible witness during his time in serving the citizens of Philadelphia.


    1. Agreed. Certainly enough to charge. Dont even need the victim. Likely enough to convict as well. Awful.

  3. Wow, some inside baseball here. I wish I knew as much as some of the commenters on this blog.

    1. I wish I saw this article a year ago. If only you knew the anxiety of these situations some of us suffer when certain crimes have no justice at all. Its not fair.

  4. Of all the atrocities that I have read here, to me the most shocking was changing Mrs. Gallaghers grand jury testimony to benefit the prosecutions case. If the Inky won't run it maybe the Catholic Standard should alert its readers .
    I am sure the Gallagher family has suffered as well but coming forward to say Mrs. Gallaghers testimony was changed would be helpful to Shero and Lynn, as well as doing the public a great service.

    Who can we trust if grand jury testimony is changed by the very people that we are taught to believe to be honest, truthful and working for justice. Its just more politically ambitious people that have put their careers first,it happens in very walk of life, but ruining lives and sending innocents in jail needs to be singled out.

    I am appalled by the Inquirers lack of concern for the public,its not enough to have Williams removed from office, his immoral behavior as an attorney as well as his disregard for our safety deserves public scrutiny.

    Are they concerned it would start a conversation about the truthfulness of prosecutors,too bad the Inquirer is getting its facts only the prosecution as there is an entire world of information available that points to prosecutors using their positions to advance themselves,hiding evidence, lying to grand juries and at trial and having witnesses lie for the prosecution.

    Their style of reporting is just not cutting it these days, the public already is skeptical of all news, this only adds to their mistrust of those in authority. Being unbiased is what is needed now, telling us Williams betrayed our trust while doing the same is unacceptable.

    In these days of not knowing where fake news is coming from I expect more from the Inquirer, I expect accurate facts and I expect reporters to know the difference between being handed the prosecutions "facts" and the actual facts of a case. So much needs to be changed in the justical system, pay attention to what leaders in the field are saying. Wake up Inky

  5. The business about Mrs. Gallagher's testimony being rewritten has been published in Newsweek and the National Catholic Reporter:



    1. I was aware of Newsweek, but glad National Catholic Reporter printed it. I just want the Inky to do it as well.

  6. You may be waiting a long time for the Inky to do it. As a reader, why don't you bring it to their attention?

  7. There are many reasons why women may not leave. She may not have enough financial resources to live away from her spouse. She may not have a place to live in.pamelawilliamssw.com/your-secrets-will-make-you-sick/


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