PHILADELPHIA, PA – A former Philadelphia police officer, once facing the possibility of over 1,300 years in prison for more than 200 counts of sexual abuse against minors and women, has reached a plea deal. 54-year-old Patrick Heron, instead of the lengthy sentence, will serve 15 to 40 years following his admission of guilt.
The plea deal came after the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office charged Heron with multiple crimes. These ranged from unlawful contact with minors and sexual abuse to kidnapping, official oppression, and forgery. The extensive investigation revealed allegations spanning over a decade, with Heron being accused of multiple assaults, unauthorized recordings of his victims, and attempts to intimidate witnesses.
Digital evidence was a crucial component of the case. Investigators unearthed disturbing images and videos associated with Heron’s accounts. Some revealed Heron’s abusive acts against victims, committed while he was on duty, uniformed, and armed. One particularly unsettling video presented during a hearing displayed Heron encouraging drug use in a woman before assaulting her.
The legal journey began when Heron was initially arrested for child sex assault charges in June. Subsequent investigations led to an avalanche of additional charges, tracing back to incidents from 2005 to 2019. A subsequent arrest followed, with a judge revoking his $2 million bail.
Although the potential penalties for all 218 charges could have amounted to over 1,300 years in prison, the plea deal, endorsed by Judge Giovanni Campbell, ensures Heron will serve between 15 to 40 years. The outcome is seen as favorable by the SIU, with Supervisor Lyandra Retacco highlighting the benefit of avoiding retraumatizing victims during a jury trial. Moreover, several survivors expressed relief over the conviction, satisfied that Heron won’t pose a threat anymore.
District Attorney Larry Krasner commented on the gravity of Heron’s crimes and lamented the system’s failure to detect and report the actions of the former officer sooner.