Charge facing Trail coach now a felony
BY ROBERT L. BAKER
Wyoming County Press Examiner
A 37-year-old Shickshinny man who teaches and coaches at Lackawanna Trail High School had aggravated assault charges bound over to county court Friday in connection with an encounter he had May 19 with a 27-year-old woman.
Michael William Petherick initially faced simple assault and disorderly conduct charges after Tunkhannock Twp. police responded to what the caller said was a domestic disturbance at the woman’s Falls’ residence around 2 a.m.
The alleged victim, Marly Scott, also faced simple assault charges, according to court documents, after Petherick told police the woman attacked him with a knife, and he was attempting to restrain her.
Police observed the woman to be visibly upset with a swollen left eye, and her face to be covered in blood, and it was also noted that Petherick’s face and midsection were also covered in blood.
Charges against Scott in District Judge Carl Smith’s court in Tunkhannock were dropped Wednesday, according to Wyoming County Assistant District Attorney Jerry Idec, “because we now don’t believe she committed an offense.”
At Petherick’s preliminary hearing before Judge Smith Friday, Scott took the witness stand and related what happened in the time leading up to the encounter with Petherick.
She said they had started drinking at a wine tasting event the previous afternoon followed by dinner and more drinks at a bar in Dalton.
Sometime after midnight, a friend had driven him back to his vehicle, and her back to her apartment, and around 2 a.m., he also showed up there.
Scott said that after leaving Dalton she told Petherick she wanted to end a relationship with him and he had been upset with her over that.
She testified that after Petherick arrived at her apartment he physically attacked her, and an ambulance took her to CMC Hospital in Scranton where she was treated for a shattered orbital socket around her eye, and displaced nose and cheekbone.
Scott also said she suffered from nerve damage, and she identified surgery done two weeks later with a titanium plate inserted which she was told by a doctor that during cold months would likely cause pain.
Petherick’s attorney, Jerry Lynott, argued that because there was no risk of death, he felt a felony charge of aggravated assault was not warranted.
Lynott also argued that the testimony given Friday was a bit different then what police had recorded in original complaints – which the attorney said amounted to mutual combatants in a domestic dispute.
Idec countered, however, that Petherick punched the victim with such force that there was not an insubstantial risk of death. He said he had a surgeon prepared to testify at trial that the victim’s orbital socket had been pushed back six millimeters.
Judge Smith said he would allow the amended felony charge of aggravated assault to be bound over to county court along with misdemeanor counts of simple assault and disorderly conduct.
Petherick is to be arraigned in the Wyoming County Court of Common Pleas on July 12, and remains free on $10,000 bail.
Asked on June 10 if criminal charges brought against an employee of the school district carried any particular weight regarding suspension of teaching or coaching responsibilities, Lackawanna Trail school board president Mark Lombardi said he could not and would not comment.
In addition to teaching English in the high school, this past year Petherick also served as wrestling and and track coach.