A former Johnstown police officer was sentenced Tuesday to one year in jail after admitting in March that he had sex with an underage girl.
Adam Schwabrow, who resigned from his police officer post as part of his March guilty plea, apologized to the victim in court Tuesday.
He also apologized to his family, friends and former co-workers for what his actions put them through.
“I am extremely remorseful and ultimately frankly disgusted with myself for what happened,” Schwabrow told Judge S. Peter Feldstein, after opening with his apology to his victim.
Schwabrow’s victim wasn’t present, preferring to avoid the attention of the sentencing, according to prosecutor Jennifer Buckley.
Schwabrow pleaded guilty in March to one count of third-degree rape. He admitted to having had sex with someone younger than 17 years old. The allegations dated back to 2011, but only came to light last fall.
Schwabrow was a nine-year veteran of the Johnstown Police Department. He also served as Montgomery County’s emergency management director. He now no longer holds either post.
He will also have to register as a sex offender.
The now-former police officer appeared in court in a suit and tie, flanked by two Fulton County corrections officers. Schwabrow began serving his sentence about two weeks after his March plea, but was allowed to dress in civilian clothes for the sentencing.
In her own statement to the court, Buckley laid out the case against Schwabrow. She noted that the crime didn’t involve force, or Schwabrow using his position as police officer.
What the case did involve, Buckley told the judge, was an adult taking advantage of a girl and doing so several times. When he was arrested, police said the girl was 16 at the time of the acts.
“By doing that, not only did he violate the victim’s trust,” Buckley said, “he also violated the trust that the community puts in a police officer.”
Buckley also echoed comments in the presentence investigation, that Schwabrow, as a police officer, should be held to a higher standard.
“That is definitely true, your honor,” Buckley said. “We cannot deny all the volunteer work and community efforts this defendant has clearly undertaken. That did not carry over to his choices and actions in this matter.”
Buckley is an assistant district attorney in the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office. That office took the case after the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office recused itself.
Schwabrow was represented in court by attorney Michael McDermott. McDermott cited a stack of letters written to the court on Schwabrow’s behalf. Several Schwabrow supporters were in the gallery for the proceedings.
McDermott also called Schwabrow’s actions “aberrations” in the life of an otherwise upstanding person.
“He readily admits he deviated from what was expected from him by the law, by his church and by his family,” McDermott said. “He deeply regrets those actions.”
McDermott closed by asking Feldstein to deviate from the agreed-upon sentence and give Schwabrow something less.
Feldstein gave a lengthy explanation of his thinking behind the sentence. He also stuck with the one-year sentence.
Feldstein said he took into account Schwabrow’s community work and volunteer work. But he also had to take into account the harm Schwabrow did to his victim.
That harm, he said, is something that will continue and may not be fully realized until years down the road.
“That is a significant harm to a person and I think it is one the court needs never to leave out of its consideration,” Feldstein said.
Still, Feldstein said it was difficult to impose such a sentence on someone like Schwabrow, who had so many other aspects of his life that were good.
“But it is my very considered judgment, and I thought long and hard about this, that it is necessary to do so,” Feldstein said.