Cromer Sticks By Rape Claim From Witness Stand
WILKES-BARRE — False rape suspect Christine Cromer took the stand in her own defense Wednesday and maintained she was sexually assaulted by a state trooper, despite a number of contradictions in her story.
Cromer, 38, of Plains Twp., testified that in late 2016 her marriage had been on the rocks and that she entered into a romantic relationship with Trooper Robert Covington, a Bureau of Gaming Enforcement officer. At the time, Cromer was a cocktail waitress at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Cromer maintained that when she began reconciling with her husband that November, she tried to break it off. Covington then asked her to come to a police car outside the casino to talk, she said.
“He kept asking me why and then that’s the date that the rape occurred,” Cromer said during questioning by defense attorney Joseph F. Sklarosky Sr.
Cromer claimed that she later misidentified state police internal affairs Sgt. Daniel Jones as her attacker when authorities presented her with an impromptu “lineup” while she wasn’t wearing glasses — a lineup that did not feature Covington.
“I couldn’t really see. The room was a little dark. There was not good lighting,” Cromer said.
Prosecutors disputed the characterization of that meeting featuring a lineup, saying they only allowed Cromer to see several troopers who were in another room during the meeting because she said she thought her attacker was present.
“I didn’t trick her. There’s no trickery,” Detective Chaz Balogh said during rebuttal testimony. “I was treating her as a victim that day.”
During cross-examination by Assistant District Attorney Angela Sperrazza, Cromer acknowledged she repeatedly identified “Sgt. Jones” as her attacker in a restraining order application, but maintained it was because that was the name she received from the district attorney’s office.
“I was told to file it on him,” Cromer said.
She attributed a number of inconsistencies in her initial statement to state police to her being nervous.
“I’m scared there. I didn’t have anybody there but my mother-in-law and my attorneys,” Cromer said.
“You bring your attorneys, you bring your mother-in-law, and the reason you lied is because you’re scared?” Sperrazza said.
“Right,” Cromer said.
Jurors on Wednesday also heared that Cromer quit her job at the casino after testing positive for methamphetamine and being on the verge of being fired. The jury did not hear that she previously pleaded guilty to dealing meth along with her husband.
Cromer is charged with making false reports and unsworn falsification for separately accusing the two state troopers of rape. Prosecutors allege Cromer’s husband is a member of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club who had been banned from visiting the casino and that the allegations were part of a plot to retaliate against Pennsylvania State Police.
Jurors are expected to begin deliberations later today.