WILKES-BARRE — After a brief, combative session between her attorney and the district judge, a woman accused of filing false reports of rape against state troopers has had her preliminary hearing continued once again, with the defense asking the judge to recuse himself.
Christine Cromer, 37, is charged with making false reports after investigators say she falsely accused Trooper Robert Covington of raping her in a State Police cruiser in November 2016 outside Mohegan Sun Pocono casino in Plains Township.
Additional charges of unsworn falsification were filed against Cromer last December for allegedly lying while requesting a restraining order against a second trooper, Sgt. Daniel Jones.
The Plains woman appeared at the Luzerne County Courthouse on Friday for her preliminary hearing, but tempers quickly started to flare.
Corporal Rebecca Warner was there to lay the groundwork for the allegations that Cromer’s accusations against Covington were false, but her defense attorney, Joseph F. Sklarosky Sr., asked if Warner had interviewed Cromer herself.
Warner said she had not.
Sklarosky said, then, her testimony was based on her impression of interviews performed by other individuals.
After repeated objections from Assistant District Attorney Angela Sperrazza were sustained by District Judge Thomas F. Malloy Sr., tensions rose between Sklarosky and the judge as Sklarosky claimed the hearing was a waste of time.
Malloy offered to recuse himself if Sklarosky felt he was being treated unfairly. Sklarosky jumped at the offer. Sperrazza said a motion would need to be filed, which Sklarosky angrily said he wouldn’t need to do at the magisterial level, while gesturing at the judge
“Don’t point your finger at me,” Malloy said, chastising Sklarosky.
Cromer’s hearing ended abruptly; court records show it will be held Feb. 23 — once again in front of Malloy.
But that looks likely to change after what happened in court Friday.
The initial charges against Cromer were filed after elements of her story did not appear to stack up.
State Police say Cromer was unable to accurately describe the inside of the cruiser where the alleged rape took place; incorrectly identified Covington in a suspect lineup; and identified Jones as her rapist despite the fact he was never stationed at the casino. Sgt. Jones also said he never met Cromer until last May, or months after she says he raped her.
Records show Cromer is currently out on a combined $50,000 bail between the sets of charges, which she was able to post through a bail bondsman.
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan