Posted by Real-Time News.

A participant in a televised town hall asked if the senator had heard news that his teenage daughter was kidnapped.

An audience member removed from a televised town hall with U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey will not face the criminal charges that police intended to file, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said Monday.

Simon Radecki, 28, of Northampton, had asked during the live broadcast Aug. 31 at WLTV-PBS39 studios whether Toomey heard the news that his teenage daughter had been kidnapped.

He was within his right to free speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution, Morganelli said.

“Clearly, Mr. Radecki’s question was stated in a callous manner without regard for what impact it might have on Senator Toomey and/or his family,” the district attorney said in a statement on his decision. “Nevertheless, the criminal law cannot be utilized to remedy insensitive conduct.”

Radecki, one of 54 people who secured tickets to the event, was interrupted by security staff as he began his prepared question. He was pulled behind a curtain and escorted outside.

Bethlehem police said the following day Radecki would be charged via summons with disorderly conduct and disrupting a meeting. Morganelli subsequently asked police to hold off on the filing of charges until he could review the incident.

Morganelli said he considered the intent and actions alleged of Radecki and found they did not rise to a prosecutable offense.

A spokesman for the senator, Steve Kelly, said in a statement Monday: “Senator Toomey believes that basing a question upon the kidnapping of one of his children is not just reprehensible, it’s inherently threatening.

“However, Senator Toomey respects the legal judgement and professionalism of DA Morganelli and his team. Therefore, Senator Toomey accepts the legal conclusion reached by DA Morganelli.”

Radecki could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ashleigh Strange, a volunteer with the Make the Road political-action group where Radecki works as field manager, attended Monday’s news conference held by Morganelli at the courthouse in Easton on his decision. She declined to comment but said Radecki’s focus remained on the intent of his question.

Radecki had said he was trying to use the purported kidnapping of a loved one to demonstrate the impact on families torn apart by immigration enforcement.

“Hello senator, thank you for coming to answer our questions tonight,” Radecki asked, according to a transcript provided by Morganelli. “I know we’ve been here for a while. You probably haven’t seen the news. Can you confirm whether or not your daughter Brigitte (sic) has been kidnapped?”

Radecki said on Facebook immediately after the town hall he wanted to continue to ask: “Whatever you’re feeling right now, that’s what it feels like to have a daughter deported. Thousands of fathers here in the Valley that live with that fear every day. Their daughters have names, too. So here’s my question. Do you unequivocally denounce any attempt by the administration to reverse DACA, which would hang the threat of deportation over hundreds of thousands of children the same age as Bridget?”

Radecki, at PBS39, didn’t get to fully pose the second part of his question.

But, Morganelli said he found, Radecki did not intend to disrupt the town hall, which continued after only a few moments’ disruption.

 “He chose an offensive way of trying to make a point about the plight of the children of illegal immigrants,” Morganelli said Monday. “I do not find by his demeanor or the way he conducted himself an intent to either disrupt the meeting or prevent it. …

“He may have disturbed some people and briefly caused Senator Toomey to experience extreme concern until the senator realized what Mr. Radecki was doing. but it was for a brief period of time, and as soon as Mr. Radecki was removed from the forum the meeting went on without incident.”

Toomey questioner arrested at PBS39 town hall

A spokesman for PBS39 could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Bethlehem police Chief Mark DiLuzio said police acted appropriately in helping to remove Radecki after his question caused concern in the studio, but that he defers to the district attorney on prosecutorial decisions.

DiLuzio did say there’s room for more common sense and the consideration of others’ feelings in how the question was phrased.

Morganelli, a former instructor of Constitutional law at Moravian College in Bethlehem, shared other examples Monday of prosecutorial decisions he’s made on the exercise of free speech:

“A few years ago I dismissed a flag law violation against an individual who was protesting by flying the American flag upside down. I found that such a prosecution would violate the free speech clause and that the flag law itself was unconstitutional.

“I also dismissed disorderly conduct charges against activists who were peacefully assembled outside the Palmer Township Post Office on income tax day.

“I dismissed the most serious charges against an individual who was known as ‘Nature Dave,’ a bank protester who walked inside an Easton bank with a sign declaring, ‘You’re being robbed,’ trying to express dissatisfaction with banking policies. 

“I recently dismissed littering charges filed against a West Easton woman who was placing Donald Trump signs on utility poles.”

Morganelli’s decision in the incident comes as he mulls a run of his own for Congress. The Democrat had said last month he’s considering a 2018 run for the 15th Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, a Republican. The district covers Lehigh and parts of Northampton counties.

Kurt Bresswein may be reached at kbresswein@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow him on Twitter @KurtBresswein. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.