‘A TREMEMDOUS ER­ROR’

Ex-Radnor pol gets 2 years pro­ba­tion for grop­ing woman, 103, in nurs­ing home

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Alex Rose arose@del­co­times.com

For­mer Radnor com­mis­sioner Wil­liam Spin­gler ar­rives at district court in this file photo. He was sen­tenced Thurs­day to two years pro­ba­tion for grop­ing a 103-year-old woman in a nurs­ing fa­cil­ity.

ME­DIA COURT­HOUSE » For­mer Radnor Town­ship Com­mis­sioner Wil­liam Spin­gler was sen­tenced to 23 months of in­ter­me­di­ate pu­n­ish­ment Thurs­day for fondling a 103-year-old woman’s breast last year. He also was or­dered to spend 60 months on home mon­i­tor­ing.

The pro­ba­tion­ary sen­tence in­cludes 60 days of elec­tronic home mon­i­tor­ing, but does not re­quire Spin­gler to regis­ter as a sex of­fender or be su­per­vised un­der spe­cial sex of­fender rules of pro­ba­tion and pa­role.

Spin­gler, a Demo­crat, was con­victed in June on two counts of in­de­cent as­sault on a per­son with a men­tal dis­abil­ity fol­low­ing a jury trial be­fore Delaware County Com­mon Pleas Court Judge John Ca­puzzi.

“I made a tremen­dous er­ror and showed a to­tal lack of good judg­ment in my ac­tions, and for that I’m truly sorry,” said Spin­gler Thurs­day. “But the thing I’m most sorry for is the pain that I’ve in­flicted on my fam­ily.”

As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Ryan Grace was seek­ing a prison term of three to 23 months fol­lowed by seven years of pro­ba­tion. While the state Sex­ual Of­fend­ers As­sess­ment Board found Spin­gler does not meet the cri­te­ria for a sex­u­ally vi­o­lent preda­tor, Grace said there are ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tors in the case, in­clud­ing Spin­gler’s po­si­tion of trust with the vic­tim, the fact that there were mul­ti­ple events and that the as­saults in­volved a per­son who could not de­fend her­self.

“Sex­ual ex­ploita­tion of the el­derly doesn’t get as much at­ten­tion in our com­mu­nity as sex­ual ex­ploita­tion of chil­dren, but it is just as hor­rific be­cause both on them con­sti­tute sex­ual vi­o­lence against vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions,” said Grace. “The hor­ror of be­ing in a cloud of de­men­tia only to see a trusted face com­ing at you in the form of sex­ual vi­o­lence is unimag­in­able.”

De­fense at­tor­ney James Pierce noted his client has never been in trou­ble with the law be­fore. He pointed to psy­cho­log­i­cal eval­u­a­tions and other re­ports that found Spin­gler is a low risk for re­of­fend­ing and did not con­clude his mo­ti­va­tion was for sex­ual grat­i­fi­ca­tion.

Spin­gler ad­mit­ted at trial that the first two counts took place at the Ge­n­e­sis Health­care Wayne Cen­ter in Radnor on Dec. 15 and Dec. 17, 2016, but de­nied a third as­sault had taken place Dec. 23. He was ac­quit­ted on that charge.

Spin­gler tes­ti­fied that he has known the vic­tim for 57 years and said she lived with him for eight years be­fore she was placed in the cen­ter in Au­gust 2015.

The vic­tim is di­ag­nosed with de­men­tia, but Spin­gler said she usu­ally rec­og­nized him dur­ing his fre­quent vis­its. That changed at a birth­day party Dec. 8, when Spin­gler said she did not rec­og­nize him at all. It was the same when Spin­gler vis­ited again Dec. 15, he said.

“I got noth­ing, no recog­ni­tion out of her and I made the big­gest mis­take of my life,” he said at trial. “I thought for shock value, you know, I could get her to say some­thing, let her know I was there. I touched her breast. It was the dumb­est thing I ever did, but I did it to get her at­ten­tion and let her know that I was there.”

A nurs­ing as­sis­tant tes­ti­fied that she wit­nessed the first as­sault and re­ported it to her unit man­ager.

An­other em­ployee said she saw Spin­gler touch­ing the vic­tim’s breast un­der a blan­ket cov­er­ing her chest on Dec. 17. The third in­ci­dent al­legedly oc­curred when Spin­gler was say­ing good­bye to the vic­tim Dec. 23. He had wrapped an arm around the woman and was squeez­ing her breast through her shirt, ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony at trial.

Ca­puzzi noted one re­port in­di­cated Spin­gler had stopped go­ing to church and asked why he had aban­doned his faith. Spin­gler said he had not turned his back on his faith, but he had stopped go­ing to that par­tic­u­lar par­ish be­cause he felt his pres­ence was an em­bar­rass­ment and a dis­trac­tion.

“My rep­u­ta­tion has been de­stroyed, my busi­ness has been de­stroyed, but af­ter to­day I’m go­ing to move for­ward and … hope­fully be able to re­build the rep­u­ta­tion that I’ve built over 65

years in Radnor Town­ship,” said Spin­gler, a Real­tor.

Spin­gler, 76, of Paoli, was the first Demo­crat to join the Radnor Board of Com­mis­sion­ers in 1970. He also served as a county com­mis­sioner from 1972 to 1980 be­fore re­turn­ing to the Radnor board in 1991. He stayed in of­fice un­til 2015, step­ping down as pres­i­dent.

In ad­di­tion to pro­ba­tion, Spin­gler was or­dered to have no un­su­per­vised or in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­tact with the vic­tim, and to en­ter into sex of­fender treat­ment and fol­low any rec­om­men­da­tions.

The judge no­ti­fied Spin­gler that if he vi­o­lates pro­ba­tion, he could be re­sen­tenced to two and a half to five years for each charge.

Spin­gler’s sen­tence comes one day af­ter cur­rent Radnor Board of Com­mis­sion­ers Pres­i­dent Philip Ahr was charged with mul­ti­ple counts of pos­sess­ing and dis­tribut­ing child pornog­ra­phy. Ahr, also a Demo­crat, has posted 10 per­cent of $100,000 bail and is sched­uled for a pre­lim­i­nary

hear­ing Oct. 26 be­fore Mag­is­te­rial District Judge David Lang.

“I was shocked by the whole episode and I just wanted to see jus­tice done,” said La­mar Lay­field, a Radnor res­i­dent and Demo­crat who came to the sen­tenc­ing hear­ing. “I think a lit­tle bit of jail time would have been help­ful, but 23 months of pro­ba­tion, as I un­der­stand it, a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time wear­ing the bracelet – you know, I go with the judge.”

Lay­field said he has known Spin­gler for years, some­times work­ing with him and some­times work­ing against him. He said the string of ac­cu­sa­tions against Spin­gler and now Ahr show a clear and ugly pat­tern with the Demo­cratic can­di­dates be­ing put up by the lo­cal com­mit­tee.

“It’s ab­so­lutely hor­ren­dous,” he said. “What we heard yes­ter­day about cur­rent Pres­i­dent Phil Ahr was shock­ing. I mean it was be­yond be­lief, frankly, and with Bill, that’s dis­turb­ing as well. It’s a real shock. It’s hard to un­der­stand ex­actly what’s go­ing on, what the mo­ti­va­tions are.”

“This was very trou­bling,” added Radnor’s 3rd

Ward Com­mis­sioner Lu­cas Clark, a Repub­li­can, who was also at the hear­ing. “This was the one per­son she could trust, and there­fore I think a lit­tle bit of time in jail would have sent the mes­sage that this will not be tol­er­ated. But over­all, I think it was a fair sen­tence.”

Clark noted Spin­gler was his com­mis­sioner when he first moved to Radnor and it has been dif­fi­cult for him to deal with, but he is glad Radnor has some clo­sure.

“This is not what the town­ship stands for, I said it yes­ter­day,” said Clark, re­fer­ring to com­ments he made when Ahr was ar­rested. “The town­ship does not stand for this and that’s why we voted to re­move (Spin­gler’s) awards, be­cause we wanted to dis­tance our­selves form him and close that chap­ter.”

Clark said the town­ship has given Ahr un­til close of busi­ness Fri­day to re­sign from the board, but Radnor might have to get into some creative le­gal wran­gling should Ahr refuse to do so. Clark does ex­pect to see a 6-0 vote at the next coun­cil meet­ing Oct. 23 to have Ahr re­moved as pres­i­dent, how­ever.

PETE BANNAN – DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

For­mer Radnor com­mis­sioner Bill Spin­gler speaks at a League of Women Vot­ers can­di­dates fo­rum in this Oc­to­ber 2013 file photo.

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