Penn State Research Professor Charged With Stalking, Attempted Invasion Of Privacy
A Penn State research professor faces four first-degree misdemeanor charges for stalking and two second-degree misdemeanor charges for attempted invasion of privacy, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
Brandon Schwartz, a research professor at Penn State’s Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, was arraigned Thursday morning in the court of Magisterial District Judge Steven Lachman and was released on his own recognizance.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, Penn State Police was alerted to an incident involving Schwartz and a known female employee, named Victim #1, on August 3.
The victim expressed to police that a man, later identified by police as Schwartz, attempted to take photos up her skirt while she was walking up the stairs of the Willard Building and reported seeing him “linger around the stairwells” on previous occasions.
Police wrote that video footage revealed that Schwartz left his office to enter the Willard Building on six separate dates with the intent to follow female students and Victim #1. He allegedly displayed a pattern of leaving his office in the Hosler Building around the same time and “loitered” in the Willard lobby while waiting for Victim #1, often possessing his phone.
Police also wrote that Schwartz, on fifteen occasions between July 8 and August 9, “identified a female, walked quickly to catch up, and followed the female up the stairs.” In these instances, police also observed Schwartz holding his phone and/or having his hand tucked into his shorts in a manner “consistent with someone manipulating something in their pants.”
After receiving a warrant to authorize seizure and search of Schwartz’s phone, police found internet searches with Victim #1’s name as well as searches such as “what is a peeping tom?” and “common examples of voyeurism.” In a police interview, Schwartz consented to the search, identified himself in the video footage, and did not provide additional context to his actions.
No photos of Victim #1 were recovered by police, but the criminal complaint noted “disruptions in the sequential number of internal photographs,” suggesting that images may have been deleted from the phone. The phone also had specific calendar entries that were active on various dates and times consistent with when Schwartz entered the Willard Building.
Police also located additional communications with a member of his department that were “sexual in nature” and discussed “masturbatory actions.”
Schwartz was notified by police via telephone that he is expected not to enter the Willard Building with the intent to “follow, view, and/or otherwise disrupt [women].” He told police, “I assure you; it won’t happen again.”
Victim #1 was able to identify Schwartz from an eight-subject photo array. The victim also discussed having fear, anxiety, and panic attacks following the alleged stalking incidents.
A Penn State spokesperson said the “university is aware of these disturbing criminal charges and is investigating in accordance with Penn State policy and applicable law.”
His preliminary hearing is set for Wednesday, October 19.
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