Philadelphia Criminal Law News

Francis Murphy Waives Preliminary Hearing In Solicitation Case

Former Archbishop Carroll High School athletic director Francis Murphy, 39, waived a preliminary hearing on charges of involving solicitation of sex from a former student, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer. During the short hearing in Bridgeport, Murphy remained quiet with his defense attorneys William J. Winning and Timothy Woodward.

A preliminary hearing is often described as a "trial before the trial," according to FindLaw. At this stage of a criminal case, the judge determines whether there is enough evidence to force the defendant to stand trial. The judge uses the legal standard of "probable cause" to decide if the government has gathered enough evidence to even convince a jury that the defendant committed a crime.

But Magisterial District Court Judge James P. Gallagher issued no such ruling in this case, and Murphy's waiver will move his case forward to Common Pleas Court for an arraignment on June 29.

Court documents revealed that Murphy was arrested in April for allegedly reaching out to a former male Archbishop Carroll student through Facebook, seeking sex. In his messages, Murphy supposedly offered to buy the young boy athletic gear and sports equipment in exchange for certain sexual favors.

The boy spoke about the messages to his mother, who then informed police. Detectives later took over the student's Facebook identity and arrested Murphy at Bridgeport's Frosty Falls Ice Cream Shop, where Murphy was under the impression that he was meeting the boy for sex.

Francis Murphy faces third degree felony charges of promoting prostitution, corruption of a minor, and unlawful contact with a minor, along with three other charges involving criminally attempting to have unlawful contact with a minor. Murphy is also subject to a maximum penalty of seven years in prison for each felony count.

However, Assistant District Attorney Samantha Cauffman agreed to drop three charges involving solicitation of a minor during the brief hearing.

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