Disturbing new details have emerged in the case against former Philadelphia police officer Patrick Heron.
Prosecutors shared the disturbing new details on Monday, including videos, photos, and witness interviews how Heron strategically targeted and sexually assaulted vulnerable women and girls — often in the back of his police cruiser and while in uniform.
Heron Posed as Active Officer, Lured Girls, Including His Daughter's Friends
Heron, who retired from the force in 2019, was arrested last year and charged with indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, stalking, and witness intimidation after prosecutors said he posed as an active officer to lure girls, including some of his daughter's friends, as reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer.
He would groom and coerce them into sending him intimate photos, officials said. In some cases, he touched them inappropriately.
Heron Preyed on Victims Who Struggled with Addiction
After investigators searched Heron's tech devices, they said they uncovered dozens of photos and videos showing that Heron's predatory behavior spanned years and included dozens of young women and girls — many of whom were vulnerable and had run away, been arrested, or struggled with addiction.
In total, Heron, from Northeast Philadelphia, faces more than 200 counts of sexual assault, child sexual abuse, kidnapping, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, indecent assault, child pornography, and related crimes.
During a hearing Monday in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, prosecutors shared a video that they said showed Heron encouraging a young woman to use heroin in the back of his cruiser.
"Finish that needle," he told her. He then videotaped himself assaulting her while she lay unconscious in the back of his car, said Lyandra Retacco, chief of the Special Investigations Unit of the District Attorney's Office.
'It Would Help You in Court to Have a Police Officer on Your Side'
In one case, Heron was responsible for driving a girl home from the hospital after she had run away, Retacco said. In another, he encountered a teen who had been arrested. Routinely, Heron would then give the girls his cell phone number and tell them to call him if they needed money or help.
Before forcing one girl to perform sex acts on him, Heron told her that, "It would help you in court to have a police officer on your side," testified Sgt. Gerald Rocks, the investigator on the case.
Heron met many of his victims while on the force, Retacco said, and prosecutors say his crimes occurred over a roughly 17-year span, from 2005 through 2022. Investigators have identified 48 victims, though many of their identities remain unknown, Retacco said. There are likely more who haven't come forward, she said.
Heron Arrested Last Year After Mother Reported Heron for Sending Inappropriate Messages to Her Daughter
Heron was arrested last September after a concerned mother shared on Facebook that Heron had posed as a police officer and was inappropriately messaging with her daughter, a minor, calling her "sweetie" and "love" and trying to organize a meet-up.
Heron then stalked and harassed the mother, prosecutors said, even showing up at her house and leaving a forged court order in her mailbox demanding she stop talking about him online.
Once detectives searched his phone and other devices, they found dozens of videos taken in 2016 and 2017, which showed Heron assaulting girls, some who appeared semiconscious, in his cruiser. Some victims contacted the District Attorney's Office after seeing his photo in the news.
Heron is being held without bail at the Delaware County Prison.He is next expected to appear in court in October.