NANTICOKE — None of the three women who came forward with allegations that Ashley police officer Mark Icker coerced them into sexual situations testified at his preliminary hearing Wednesday.
Despite their absences, District Judge Donald Whittaker listened to hearsay testimony by Luzerne County Det. Charles Balogh who, along with county Det. Lt. Daniel Yursha, interviewed the three women.
After Balogh testified for nearly two hours, Whittaker forwarded a total of four counts of indecent assault, three counts each of official oppression and coercion, two counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and a single count of sexual assault against Icker to Luzerne County Court.
Whittaker denied a request by Icker’s attorney, Bernard Brown, to set bail for his client, which resulted in Icker being sent back to the county correctional facility.
His lawyer said previously he has turned in his badge, gun and uniform.
Icker also worked at police departments in Sugar Notch and Jessup in Lackawanna County.
Before the hearings began, Brown made an objection over hearsay testimony that was offered by Balogh.
A 2017 state Superior Court ruling, Commonwealth v. Ricker, permits prosecutors to present only hearsay testimony at the preliminary hearing level to establish a case. The state Supreme Court has refused to make a ruling on the hearsay issue at the preliminary hearing level.
First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce presented each separate case against Icker, who was initially arrested Dec. 20, on a second case Dec. 21 and on a third case Jan. 4.
Balogh testified the first woman, 33, claimed she was stopped by Icker while driving on North Main Street in Ashley on Dec. 9. Icker had the woman exit her vehicle and detained her in handcuffs before placing her in the rear seat of his cruiser.
The woman allowed Icker to search her vehicle when he allegedly found two prescription bottles. One bottle contained a prescription along with over-the-counter antacid tablets.
Icker told the woman she could be charged with misbranding a controlled substance.
Balogh said the woman told him Icker asked several times, “How can you help me, help you?” The woman initially told Icker she would be a better person and a better mother but later realized Icker was referring to sex.
Icker drove the woman to the Ashley police station then later to a secluded park on Conyngham Street where he coerced her into performing oral sex on him. Balogh said the woman rubbed Icker’s semen on her pants, which the detective said was seized as evidence.
The second woman, 21, came forward Dec. 21 after her friend read media reports of Icker’s arrest the previous day.
Balogh said the second woman claimed Icker stopped her on Wyoming Street and claimed he detected an odor of marijuana. Icker learned the woman was free on bail on an unrelated case and was driving with a suspended license.
Icker handcuffed the woman, placed her in the cruiser and searched her vehicle without consent, allegedly finding a marijuana blunt, Balogh said.
Faced with going to jail for violating bail, Balogh said the woman told him Icker asked her, “How can you help me, help you.” The woman initially thought Icker wanted her to be a drug snitch but quickly realized Icker was referring to sex.
Balogh said the woman felt powerless when Icker escorted her to a bathroom inside an empty Ashley police station, locked the door and coerced her to perform oral sex.
After media reports of Icker’s arrests, Balogh said a third woman from Mountain Top came forward.
Balogh said the third woman, 26, reported she was stopped by Icker on Hazleton Street in Ashley on June 18. During the stop, Icker administered a portable breath test on the woman, telling her she was “Way over the limit.”
Icker allegedly took the woman to a hospital for a blood alcohol test and gave her a ride home after asking her if she had a boyfriend or husband to pick her up. Icker talked himself into the woman’s house, claiming he had to use her bathroom, Balogh said.
He said Icker kept asking the woman about her tattoos and asked if she had her nipples pierced. When he asked her to show a tattoo on her chest, the woman lowered the sleeves off her shoulders to show Icker her chest tattoo, Balogh testified.
Balogh said when the woman lowered her shirt, she claimed Icker approached and forcibly pulled down her shirt and bra, exposing her breast. He then allegedly placed his hands under her breasts.