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AG: Higgins traded his power, law enforcement authority for sexual favors

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro addressed the charges levied against former Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins. (WJAC)

BEDFORD, Pa. - Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro addressed the charges levied against former Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins.

“District Attorney Higgins traded his power and law enforcement authority for sexual favors and violated his oath to the people of Bedford County -- compromising the security of his community and the safety of confidential informants,” Shapiro said.

Earlier Wednesday, Higgins was arraigned and waived his preliminary hearing on 31 counts involving misconduct in office.

“The charges announced today are the culmination of years of tireless police work conducted by dedicated state police investigators, in cooperation with our law enforcement partners,” said Major Douglas Burig, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

During his announcement Wednesday, Shapiro highlighted several incidents of alleged corruption by Higgins.

Shapiro said Higgins offered favorable treatment to women he was having sexual relations with in exchange for lighter sentences and reduced bail amounts.

The attorney general said that Higgins protected known drug dealers from criminal prosecution, including revealing the identities of nine confidential informants to drug dealers.

He also said Higgins told three main witness in the State Police's case to refuse to speak to investigators and conceal their sexual relationship.

"This is a troubling case that demonstrates a pattern of abuse by the top law enforcement official in Bedford County," said Buirg.

Shapiro said the investigation is ongoing and is asking anyone who feels they were victimized by Higgins to call 724-332-7252.

The Attorney General's Office will be prosecuting the case.

The Bedford County Commissioners said in statement that they were "shocked and disappointed" in the alleged actions of Higgins.

Higgins attorney Steven Pasarrello said Wednesday his client is "absolutely innocent."

Higgins resigned Wednesday and Leslie Childers-Potts were serve as acting district attorney. A special election will be held at a later date to fill the role.

Higgins is out of jail on $50,000 unsecured bail.

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