Lehigh Valley

No plea offer on the table in case of suspected serial rapist

Seth Mull accused of attacking four women

EASTON, Pa. - A Northampton County judge suggested Friday that if a plea deal is in the offing for an accused serial rapist that he decides quickly on whether to accept it.

Seth Mull stands accused of imprisoning, drugging and raping four women over a roughly eight-week span last year. Authorities said three of the alleged attacks took place in different hotels in Bethlehem and Hanover Township, while the fourth occurred in Philadelphia.

The attorneys appeared briefly before Northampton County Judge Stephen Baratta to address the prosecution’s request to try all four cases at one time. The judge made no decision on the district attorney’s motion, giving the defense 10 days to file a written response.

The judge inquired about the prospect of a plea offer from the district attorney’s office, noting that a guilty verdict could amount to a life sentence for the 30-year-old Mull given the seriousness of the crimes.

If the prosecution reaches an agreement that the victims can accept, Baratta said he’s inclined to allow the victims to direct the outcome of the case, if it spares them the emotional trauma of testifying at trial.

The judge suggested to the defense that it quickly make a decision on a plea deal, if one is offered. Prosecutors may feel very strongly about their case once the court starts taking testimony on pre-trial motions and be less inclined to offer a deal, he said.

Outside the courtroom, Assistant District Attorney Laura Majewski said the D.A.’s office has yet to offer Mull a plea deal, and the victims are each ready to proceed with a trial. The trauma of the alleged attacks was so great that the only acceptable outcome for the victims, at this point, might be to describe what happened in their own words, she said.

“So, I don’t know if they’d be comfortable with something other than a trial,” Majewski said.

The prosecution has asked the court to consolidate Mull’s case from Philadelphia with the other three in Northampton County and try them at one trial. While the judge said he could understand the defense’s concern about having four rape victims testifying against their client at one time, Baratta also said the request seems “pretty straightforward.”

“What sense does it make to piecemeal this?” the judge asked.

As defense attorney Matthew Potts started to answer, the judge interrupted to point out that the prosecution would then be able to bring its strongest case against Mull first. A guilty verdict, he noted, would then haunt the defendant throughout the remainder of his trials.

The defense has filed several motions, including one to suppress evidence. The judge will hear those arguments on Aug. 15.

Officers from the Colonial Regional Police Department were dispatched to a Best Western Hotel last September to investigate an alleged sexual assault. The woman alleged that Mull had attacked her.

When officers tried to question him, Mull declined to speak with police, and he was eventually detained.
The defense argues that Mull’s phone was seized and searched without a warrant. Mull was eventually released. Investigators later secured a search warrant for the phone, which the defense argues lacked probable cause and was “overly broad” in scope, according to court papers.

Bethlehem police responded in October 2017 to a Holiday Inn Express to conduct a welfare check. Officers discovered Mull and seized two cell phones. The defense again argues search warrants were issued without sufficient probable cause.

When authorities searched Mull’s Hellertown home in November 2017, they seized Mull’s computer, which was password protected. The defense argues the subsequent search of that computer was illegal after the woman with whom Mull was living provided the password.

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