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Doe v. Old Forge Borough

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

January 26, 2017

NASTASHA BURDYN Plaintiff,
v.
OLD FORGE BOROUGH, et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ROBERT D. MARIANI United States District Judge.

         Presently before the Court are the following three Motions in Limine:

         1. Defendant Krenitsky's Motion in Limine to Exclude all Evidence of and Reference to Defendant's Criminal Arrest, Charges, Resulting Suspension and Resignation, Guilty Plea, and Nolle Pressed Charges (Doc. 249);

         2. Plaintiffs Motion in Limine to Preclude Defendants from Denying that Defendants Lawrence A. Semenza, James Krenitsky and Walter Chiavacci Engaged in the Criminal Acts for Which they Pleaded Guilty (Doc. 257);

         3. Defendant Semenza's Motion in Limine to Exclude all Evidence of and Reference to Defendant's Criminal Arrest, Charges, Resulting Suspension and Resignation, Guilty Plea, Reversal, Acquittals, and Nolle Pressed Charges (Doc. 263).

         Because each of these motions relies on similar grounds and factual bases, the Court will consider them together.

         Both Krenitsky and Semenza's motions in limine seek to exclude all evidence of and reference to their respective criminal arrests, charges, resulting suspensions and resignations from the Borough, nolle prossed charges, and guilty pleas. (Docs. 249, 263). Semenza's motion also seeks to exclude all evidence and reference to the jury's acquittal of him on four charges and guilty verdict against him on two charges at the conclusion of his criminal trial in 2013 and the Pennsylvania Superior Court's subsequent reversal of the jury's guilty verdict in 2015. (Doc, 263).

         Conversely, Plaintiffs motion in limine requests that the Court "preclude Defendants from denying that [the individual defendants] engaged in the criminal acts for which they pleaded guilty." (Doc. 257). Plaintiff argues that "the guilty pleas entered by Defendants Chiavacci, Krenitsky and Semenza constitute conclusive admissions of each of the facts on which their underlying criminal charges were based, and thus they have preclusive effect on all of the Defendants in this action." (Doc. 258, at 7).

         Although the parties are intimately familiar with the factual background of this case, the Court briefly notes the following relevant facts for purposes of this motion.

• On December 19, 2012, Chiavacci pleaded guilty to Indecent Assault with a person less than 16 years of age (18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3126(a)(8)), a misdemeanor in the second degree. The charges of Aggravated Indecent Assault (18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3125(a)(8)) and Corruption of Minors (18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6301(a)(1)) were nolle prossed. (Doc. 258, Ex. B). At the time of his guilty plea, Chiavacci admitted to "digitally penetrat[ing] the vagina of [Burdyn], an individual who was 15 years old at the time." (Id. at Ex. C).
• In May, 2012, Krenitsky was charged with (1) Corruption of minors (18 Pa.C.SA § 6301(a)(1)); (2) Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a person less than 16 years of age (18 Pa.C.SA § 3123(a)(7)); (3) Indecent Assault without the consent of other (18 Pa.C.SA § 3126(a)(1)); and (4) Contact/Communication with a minor -sexual offenses (18 Pa.C.SA § 6318(a)(1)).
• As a result of being criminally charged, Krenitsky was suspended from his position with the Old Forge Police Department and subsequently resigned from the position. (Doc. 249, at ¶ 2).
• On September 12, 2013, Krenitsky pleaded guilty to Indecent Assault without the consent of other (18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3126(a)(1)), a misdemeanor in the second degree. The other three charges were nolle prossed. (Doc. 258, Ex. E). At the time of the guilty plea, Krenitsky admitted that "between January 1, 2005, and June 30, 2005, that [he] engaged in conduct that constitutes oral sex with" Burdyn. (Id. at Ex. F).
• In May, 2012, Semenza was charged with (1) Contact/Communication with a minor -sexual offenses (18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6318(a)(1)); (2) Indecent Exposure (18 Pa.C.SA § 3127(a)); (3) Indecent Assault of a Person less than 16 years of age (18 Pa.C.SA § 3126(a)(8)); (4) Aggravated Indecent Assault of a Person less than 16 (18 Pa.C.SA § 3125(a)(8)); (5) Person to Report Suspected Child Abuse (23 ...

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