Philly cop heralded by Obama in ’09 withdraws guilty plea on sex charges

    Barack Obama

    President Obama puts his hand to his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance at the 102nd Abraham Lincoln Association banquet in Springfield, Ill., in 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    In an unexpected turn of events, a former Philadelphia cop wants to withdraw his guilty plea and head to trial on charges that he forced two women to take drugs and perform sex acts.

    In late February, Richard DeCoatsworth pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution, possession with intent to distribute and simple assault.

    On Wednesday, a city judge was expected to sentence the 28-year-old, but the hearing was rescheduled to give DeCoatsworth time to consider his options.

    Standing outside of the Criminal Justice Center, A. Chuck Peruto, DeCoatsworth’s attorney, said his client plans to go to trial so he has the chance to prove that he’s “completely innocent.”

    “When you’re charged with a million crimes that will give you a million years and you’re offered a sweetheart deal, a lot of people will take it. This guy doesn’t want a deal, even if it means he’s going to come home from prison today,” said Peruto. “He wants his day in court and I can’t blame him.”

    Prosecutors said they would be ready to go trial if DeCoatsworth makes that call when the case returns to court on April 1.

    “It makes no difference either way,” said Assistant District Attorney Ashley Lynam, who is prosecuting the case. “The situation is not in my hands. It’s up to the defendant, whatever he wishes to do.”

    Under February’s open plea deal, nearly 30 additional charges were dropped, including rape and aggravated assault.

    All charges would be reinstated if the case goes to trial.

    DeCoatsworth will await his next court date behind bars. He’s been in jail since his arrest last May.

    Before being charged, DeCoatsworth was considered a hero.

    In 2007, while still a rookie, DeCoatsworth chased down a West Philadelphia man who shot him in the face during a traffic stop.

    DeCoatsworth was later invited to attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in 2009. He sat next to the first lady.

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