Kittanning, Applewold men waive sex assault charges to court
Two Armstrong County men pleaded not guilty to sex assault charges Tuesday and waived their rights to preliminary hearings.
The men are David Croyle, a Kittanning councilman, newspaper publisher and pastor, and Mark Alan Feeney, a former Applewold councilman and former chief of the East Franklin Volunteer Fire Department.
The move means the case against them will move to court in Armstrong County for a trial or possible plea bargain.
Croyle, 60, and Feeney, 54, were arrested in August after, state police say, they engaged in sexual encounters in 2016 with a then-14-year-old with a mental handicap.
In both cases, charges of aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault were dropped. The two still face charges of statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor and corruption of minors.
Feeney’s attorney, Marc Daffner, said the withdrawal of the charges was done in consideration of the evidence and with the agreement of the district attorney’s office.
Daffner said his client “continues to assert his innocence.”
“We feel it would be more appropriate to deal with this matter in Common Pleas Court,” Daffner said.
Feeney resigned from Applewold Council last month.
Duke George, who is representing Croyle, said it was in his client’s best interest to waive the charges because the victim wasn’t going to testify at the hearing. He considers the withdrawal of two of the charges a win.
“We’re going to fight this until the end,” he said.
Police say Croyle came into contact with the victim when he applied for a job at the Kittanning Paper, where Croyle serves as publisher and editor. The victim told police the application showed his age as 14. Police say the victim told them he first met Feeney at Riverfront Park in Kittanning through a mutual friend.
Police say the sexual assaults occurred at Feeney’s home in Applewold and Croyle’s home in Kittanning. Trial dates for the men have not been set.
Croyle remains on Kittanning Council but no longer is vice president, according to the borough. The vice president now is Andrew Peters.
The East Franklin Township Fire Department merged with Applewold Volunteer Fire Department in July to form West Hills Emergency Services. Feeney remains listed as fire chief of the East Franklin Township Fire Department on its website. He also served as fire marshal for North Buffalo Township until he was removed from that position following his arrest.
Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Madasyn at 724-226-4702, firstname.lastname@example.org, or via Twitter @maddyczebstrib. Staff writer Brian Rittmeyer contributed.