A first degree misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison as well as a $10,000 fine. A second degree misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison as well as a $5,000 fine.
At the time of the offense, Gerlach was a caseworker at Valley Youth House. As originally reported by James Whitney at this blog, Gerlach met with a 16 yo runaway who needed a place to stay. Rather than take him to any of a number of shelters, including one operated by her own employer, she dumped him off at a tent city. There he was subjected to two nights of sexual abuse, thanks to Gerlach,
Whitney contacted Gerlach, who admitted to him that she did drop this teen off at a tent city. She denied she knew he was underage, "so if people want to beat me up for that, they can."
Looks like they have. In addition to these criminal charges, Gerlach finished last in a four-way Mayoral contest on May 18.
The charges were filed by Lehigh County Detective Gregg M Dietz, who conducted a quite thorough investigation detailed in The Morning Call account. Significantly, Gerlach's claim she was unaware ofthe boy's age is bellied by her own paperwork.
Gerlach was preliminarily arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Rashid Santiago. He set bail at $2,500 unsecured. A preliminary hearing, in which the Commonwealth must present prima facia evidence that Gerlach committed a crime, is currently scheduled for August 6 before Magisterial District Judge Karen Devine.
Gerlach is represented by prominent Allentown criminal defense attorney Ed Angelo. Through him she has denied wrongdoing and refuses "to allow these allegations to distract me from my service to the people of Allentown."
Service like that Allentown does not need.
Gerlach sounds eerily similar to another so-called public servant who had to be dragged out of office, kicking and screaming. Former Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski is currently serving a 15-year sentence for his service.
Though this blog and fellow blogger Michael Molovinsky had Fed Ed's number in 2007, The Morning Call refused to take a serious look at his hijinks until the Feds were literally at his door.
This pattern continued with Gerlach. The paper and other local news sources refused to write a word even though she herself admitted she dropped this boy off at a tent city. That refusal continued when I told you that the Lehigh County District Attorney was investigating. It was a story you needed to hear.
I suspect this refusal was politically motivated. I saw no hesitation when the paper targeted Congressional candidate Marty Nothstein with a decades old rumor.
Let's not forget we are dealing with child abuse, a topic far more important than politics. The local media let you down when it refused to cover this story. This reluctance to cast a critical eye toward child caregivers is how little girls like Grace Packer end up dead. Valley Youth House kept Gerlach on their staff until May 10, after the Lehigh County DA began sniffing around.
That's another story.