A Rosemont woman who filed a federal lawsuit in July, alleging sexual assault by a Lower Merion police officer, was arrested Friday and charged with perjury after a grand jury concluded she falsified records of correspondence with him.
The woman, Gabrielle P. Drexler, surprised the Lower Merion Township Board of Commissioners in May by making those criminal accusations against police officer Michael John and accusing officer Steven Salera of threats and intimidation.
Drexler sued John, Salera, Lower Merion Township, the Lower Merion Police Department and police Superintendent Michael J. McGrath.
Drexler is charged with third-degree felony perjury. She is also charged with false swearing in official proceedings, two counts of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and false report/falsely incriminating another—all second-degree misdemeanors—according to Montgomery County court records.
Magisterial District Judge Margaret Hunsicker in Norristown was scheduled to arraign Drexler at 10:30 a.m. Friday and will preside over Drexler's preliminary hearing Nov. 29. Hunsicker set bail at $50,000 unsecured, according to the court record.
County court records show no evidence of charges against John or Salera.
John “received an official caution from his superiors for his conduct in this incident,” according to the grand jury presentment. John has been on active duty since the investigation began and will be in a patrol unit next week, according to township spokeswoman Brenda Viola.
Viola declined to comment further.
Friday afternoon, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman held a press conference and released an 800-word statement explaining the circumstances of the case. Among Ferman's points in the statement:
- Montgomery County Investigating Grand Jury heard testimony from nine people, including Drexler;
- printed emails that Drexler gave investigators had been altered from the original text, by someone typing on her computer, to include language that incriminated John;
- Drexler told the grand jury no one else had access to her computer and that the additional language "magically appeared";
- the grand jury found Salera conducted his traffic stop of Drexler appropriately and did not illegally detain her.
According to the presentment, emails were altered to include statements such as “I am sorry for groping and trying to kiss you as you backed away in confusion that day at the park…” and “i (sic) knew you were my dream girl and that is why i (sic) pulled my police car over to you and told you that i (sic) was the officer at your house the night that incident occurred with your dad…”
The statement released by Ferman concludes, "The Grand Jury found no merit to any of Ms. Drexler's criminal allegations and instead found that she was simply a woman scorned and sought retaliation against members of the police department. She did this by lying at a public meeting and then to a grand jury. The grand jury felt that this could not be tolerated and found probable cause that she had committed the crimes of perjury, false swearing, tampering with evidence and false reports."
The 18 grand jurors voted unanimously for the presentment.