The most serious charges against a man accused of beating, raping and holding a woman against her will for three weeks in a South Bethlehem boarding house were dropped by prosecutors, according to published reports.
The Northampton County District Attorney’s office now no longer believes the tale told by the 21-year-old alleged victim and, in fact, believes that Jessica Hammerstone may have been trying to have her alleged captor—Steven Kitchell—killed, according to The Express Times.
Kitchell pleaded guilty Tuesday to simple assault and unlawful restraint in Northampton County Court, while charges of rape, sexual assault, indecent assault and kidnapping were dropped, the newspaper reported. He is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 28.
At an August preliminary hearing, Hammerstone told a harrowing tale of being held against her will at the boarding house at 826 Montclair Ave.
She testified that she was twice raped, had her left cheekbone and several ribs broken by beatings, shot in the thigh with a BB gun and locked in a bedroom against her will over the course of three weeks.
She also acknowledged during testimony that she had opportunities to get away, but didn’t take them. “I was terrified of him,” she said.
However, Assistant District Attorney Patricia Broscius told the court that, after that preliminary hearing, Kitchell passed a lie detector test, while Hammerstone failed to show up for a scheduled polygraph at least three times, according to The Morning Call.
Prosecutors now believe that Kitchell was Hammerstone’s pimp and that, while he did hold her against her will for a few days, he only did so after learning that she was plotting to have him robbed and murdered by her drug dealer, the newspaper reported.
According to online court records, Hammerstone was arrested and charged in Allentown with promoting prostitution a week after she had allegedly escaped from Kitchell. She was sentenced in September to 12 months of probation.