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State Police: Officer Lied About Assault

WEST PENN TOWNSHIP — A cop faces criminal charges after state police say the officer lied about being attacked on the job. It was back in September when W...

WEST PENN TOWNSHIP -- A cop faces criminal charges after state police say the officer lied about being attacked on the job.

It was back in September when West Penn Township Police Officer Melissa Ruch claimed she was assaulted during a traffic stop, but now state police say she made it all up and she is now facing criminal charges.

Melissa Ruch is facing misdemeanor charges for lying to police. She's also suspended without pay from her job as a cop with the West Penn Township Police Department.

Ruch claimed she was attacked in September during a traffic stop on Route 309 south of Tamaqua. She ended up 20 feet down an embankment.

No one ever found the person who assaulted her. State police say that's because it never happened. Now she is facing charges for making up the whole thing.

West Penn Township Supervisor James Akins spoke with Ruch on Wednesday.

"I will say she is frustrated. She seems surprised with the timeliness of everything and she was taking it to the next level," said Akins.

State police determined Ruch was lying when they spoke with witnesses who never saw the dark-colored Nissan Maxima Ruch said she pulled over. Testing also determined that Ruch's Taser was never fired at a person like she claimed. Ruch also said her dashcam video wasn't working that day.

Since then, West Penn Township got new cameras for police cruisers.

"We've taken steps to ensure that that does not happen again."

A few days after the alleged attack, Ruch was honored on Patriot Day by Schuylkill County and state officials for her bravery during the attack. But at the event, she dodged our cameras and didn't want to talk.

We tried to get her side of the story on Wednesday, but got no answer.

State Representative Jerry Knowles was at the ceremony honoring Ruch, too. He was surprised by the criminal charges telling us, "it's embarrassing and it's disappointing, but 99.9 percent of police officers are good people who go to work every day and put their lives on the line to protect us."

The investigation has many people in West Penn Township questioning if they can trust the officers there. A township supervisor says he has full faith in his officers.

"I'd remind everybody don't be too quick to pass judgment. Let's find out where the investigation and the court hearings go and deal with it after we find out."

Melissa Ruch is suspended without pay.

A criminal complaint charges Ruch with false alarms to agencies of public safety and false reports to law enforcement authorities.

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