Republicans in the Philadelphia suburb of Montgomery County have a successor to former chairman Robert Kerns, who is facing criminal charges.
Members of the Montgomery County GOP Committee elected state Rep. Mike Vereb on Wednesday night.
Vereb, a fourth-term legislator, holds a leadership post in the House majority caucus.
County committee director John Kelemen says Vereb would serve at least through a scheduled party reorganization in the spring.
The 66-year-old Kerns faces charges he drugged and raped a female employee of his former law firm after a work-related party in October.
Kerns allegedly assaulted a 51-year-old woman, who worked part-time at his law firm, following an after-work party on Oct. 25 at a restaurant in Blue Bell, Pa., according to court documents.
The woman was unable to drive home from the party, so Kerns offered to drop her off at the King of Prussia Mall, while he attended a political event, court documents state. He said he'd pick her back up afterwards and by then she should be sober enough to drive.
However, prosecutors say that plan was never carried out. According to court documents, Kerns bought a $68 bottle of Chardonnay before leaving the bar. The victim told officials she remembered drinking the wine in the car before passing out.
Kerns allegedly drove the woman to her home, brought her inside and then raped her, the criminal complaint says.
Prosecutors say he drugged the woman with the sleeping pill Ambien and then sexually assaulted her multiple times.
The woman also told investigators she had leg injuries from the attack and that she photographed the wounds. She quit her job the following Monday and reported the alleged assault several days later, officials said.
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said the woman went to the hospital the day after the attack and that "critical forensic evidence" was recovered. Kerns' DNA was also recovered on the woman's clothing, officials said.
"I don't think there's going to be any testimony in this case whatsoever that my client raped anybody or that he ever gave anybody any drugs," said Brian McMonicle, Kerns' attorney.
NBC10 was first to bring the allegations to light on Nov. 13 -- a day after the case went to a grand jury. That day, our crews witnessed several Montgomery County investigators visiting Kerns' Upper Gwynedd law office. Sources also said investigators visited the man's home.
Kerns formally resigned from his post as the head of the Montgomery County Republican Committee, one of the region's largest political organizations, on Nov. 14. He was involved in Montgomery County politics for more than 30 years, according to his former online profile on the party's website.
Kerns is free on $100,000 bail and maintains he is innocent. He's ordered to stay away from the victim, not allowed to enter any establishment that serves alcohol, not consume alcohol and is subject to random alcohol screenings. Kerns will also be required to wear a GPS monitoring device.