The Bucks County Courier Times by LAURIE MASON SCHROEDER - December 18, 2010
BENSALEM, PA- A jury found that Michael Marren, former head of Bensalem police's Special Victim's Unit, sexually assaulted a woman. Michael Marren, a former Bensalem police sergeant who spent much of his career arresting sex offenders, joined their ranks Friday after a jury convicted him of sexually assaulting a 23-year-old woman. Marren, who oversaw the force's Special Victims Unit, will now be a registered sex offender under Megan's Law for the rest of his life and could serve more than 10 years in prison, although his attorney said he will argue for less. "Hopefully the court will realize that this was an aberration," said defense lawyer Jack McMahon. "We're hoping that his background, his character and his service to his country will be taken into consideration." Marren, a married father of four, wept silently and turned around to look at his wife and supporters after the verdict was read. There was no other reaction in the courtroom. Marren was found guilty of aggravated indecent assault - a felony - and indecent assault. The jury of nine men and three women found him not guilty of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and sexual assault. The verdict capped a weeklong trial in Bucks County Court in Doylestown. The victim, a volunteer emergency medical technician who worked alongside Marren at his part-time job at the Bensalem Rescue Squad, told the jury that Marren attacked her in a bathroom at the squad's headquarters. The incident occurred in the early morning hours of March 9, after Marren and the woman had been out drinking with several other squad members who were mourning the death of a paramedic. The woman told the jury that she had asked Marren for a ride back to the squad, where she planned to stay the night, and that he forced himself on her when she went in to use the bathroom. She testified that Marren groped her and put his mouth on her body, then forced her to her knees and made her perform a sex act. She said she tried text-messaging friends for help during the assault, but did not call 911 because she feared other police officers might sexually assault her too. Jurors saw photos and heard testimony about the woman's injuries. Marren's DNA and saliva were found on her breast. Coworkers found the woman hiding in a mechanic's closet after the assault. They called police. On the witness stand Thursday, Marren denied assaulting the woman. He told the jury that she drunkenly tried to kiss him, then reached into his pants. He said he rebuffed her advances, and said she was behaving erratically. He said he was driving home after dropping the woman off when he began getting cell phone calls about the allegations. "I'm seeing my whole life unravel before me," he told the jury. In a 2-hour closing statement to the jury Friday morning, McMahon accused the woman of creating "fake ass drama" and crying rape to get attention. He questioned the validity of DNA evidence and said prosecutors had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Marren assaulted the woman. McMahon said the woman should not be believed, calling her testimony that she texted friends in the midst of the attack "absurd," and described her account of the incident as "a scatter-shot, erratic, schizophrenic rant." First Assistant District Attorney Michelle Henry said she'd never witnessed such a "trashing" of a sex assault victim in court. She argued that Marren, with his knowledge of sex crimes, crafted an account of the evening to fit the evidence he thought police had. She noted that Marren had no explanation for his DNA being found on the woman, a piece of evidence that he didn't know about when he gave his statement to county detectives. "It was damage control," Henry told the jury. Henry said the victim was pleased with the verdict. "The defendant and his attorney attempted to put her on trial. The verdict clearly shows that the jury rejected that," Henry said. "This has been a long, hard process for her. She feels that justice was served." Marren was fired shortly after the incident, following an internal investigation. He had worked for Bensalem since 2001 and had headed the Special Victim's Unit for three years. Prior to that he was a Philadelphia firefighter and a Bucks County corrections officer. Marren will be sentenced in about 90 days, following a Megan's Law evaluation. Laurie Mason Schroeder can be reached at 215-694-7489 or lmason@phillyBurbs.com Follow Laurie on Twitter at twitter.com/buckscourts.