Authorities issued a warrant this afternoon for the arrest of Penn Economics professor Rafael Robb, and the Associated Press reports that he is currently being held in jail without bail.
Robb, 56, has been charged with the first- and third-degree murder of his wife, Ellen Robb, and with possessing instruments of crime, according to a press release from the office of Montgomery County district attorney Bruce Castor.
Robb - who has told authorities he was on Penn's campus when the murder took place - is also charged with giving false reports to law-enforcement officials, unsworn falsification to authorities and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.
Frank Genovese, Robb's attorney, could not be reached for comment.
Ellen Robb, 49, was murdered in her home outside Philadelphia on Dec. 22. An autopsy revealed that her death was probably the result of being beaten severely with a long, cylindrical object.
Authorities believe an impending divorce may have given Robb motive, according to the press release.
Castor announced last week that Robb was the main suspect in the case.
The lag time between the announcement and the arrest gave authorities more time to collect the evidence they needed to issue a warrant.
Edward Ohlbaum, a professor at Temple University Law School who specializes in criminal law, said authorities are normally unable to make an arrest until they have reasonable proof that they have the right suspect.
Though authorities had already documented several inconsistencies in Robb's statements and behavior, Ohlbaum said they probably needed DNA evidence, physical evidence or an eyewitness account before they could arrest him.
University officials are sticking to statements made before Robb's arrest concerning his job at Penn.
"As we have previously stated, Professor Robb has already been relieved of his teaching responsibilities for the semester," said Phyllis Holtzman, a Penn spokeswoman.
Holtzman would not comment on whether Rafael Robb's status as a faculty member might change in the near future.
Penn Law professor Paul Robinson pointed out that this case puts Penn in awkward position.
"I don't think they're going to fire him before there's a jury verdict," Robinson said, adding that, if Rafael Robb is convicted, not even tenure can save him from being fired.
"University professors have tenure, but it's not that solid," he said.
Robb is currently listed as a tenured professor in the School of Arts and Sciences.
Robinson added that the case's Ivy League pedigree might make it that much "more tantalizing to the press."
And, according to some legal experts, even a speedy resolution might not undo the havoc the case could potentially wreak.
"Even if [Robb] were acquitted, this will always be tied to him," Penn criminology professor Laurie Robinson said.
Robb, who has taught at Penn for several years, is a native of Israel. He received his Ph.D. in 1981 from the University of California at Los Angeles.Comments powered by Disqus
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