Philadelphia prosecutors are charging a Delaware County man with assaulting a woman at a hotel bar during the Democratic National Convention in July.
The decision comes after the city’s district attorney’s office initially announced it would not pursue the case, prompting national criticism.
Prosecutors now say what happened at a DoubleTree hotel bar around 2 a.m., reported by Bernie Sanders delegate Gwen Snyder, was a crime.
Snyder said fellow delegate Walter Weeks, 72, asked her for a hug at the bar. She reluctantly agreed. Shortly after, Snyder, 30, of Philadelphia, said Weeks burrowed his head in her chest in an act that prosecutors now say amounts to indecent assault, a misdemeanor.
Snyder said her aim is not to see Weeks sent to jail, but for him to receive some rehabilitation. But she also has a deeper mission.
“The goal is this case has been, really, making sure institutions really recognize that sexual assault is a problem. It’s incredibly underreported, and it has to be understood and acknowledged,” Snyder said.
Prosecutors said Weeks, a fellow Sanders delegate, recently turned himself into the Special Victims Unit. Still,
Weeks’ attorney Michael Engle said in a statement that his client is innocent, claiming that the district attorney’s office about-face was motivated by something other than evidence.
“Political and media pressure placed on the DA is the sole reason there is any case against Walter Weeks at this time,” Engle said. “We look forward to examining the evidence in the case and addressing this matter in a court of law as opposed to the court of public opinion.”
And office spokesman said its decision to not take the case was based on an incomplete investigation. After talking to witnesses and reviewing video footage, prosecutors decided that Weeks should be charged.
“The fact that this case is being prosecuted, to me, is a very empowering development, regardless of what happens in the court system,” Snyder said.