A Philadelphia judge last week wrote the final chapter in a long-running serial involving the Northeast’s “Bizarro World” Batman.
Common Pleas Court Judge Joan A. Brown ordered Charles Nagle to serve the next two to four years in prison for violating his probation in a 1993 child-molestation case by stalking Law and Order television actress Kathryn Erbe.
The superhero tie-in is that Nagle, 38, of Greenfield Street near Patrician Drive in Modena Park, previously was best-known to regular Northeast Times readers, along with frequent Comic-Con and auto-show attendees, as the guy who liked to dress up in a Batman suit and hob-knob with the semifamous to obscure actors who appeared in the 1960s TV series featuring Adam West as the Caped Crusader.
The details of Nagle’s encounters with the law, both past and recent, are anything but heroic.
“I’m very pleased with the outcome,” said Assistant District Attorney Alisa Shver, who prosecuted the probation violation case. “It really serves to protect the community from someone who the record shows can’t control his appetites, who targets women and doesn’t believe he did anything wrong.”
Following his incarceration, Nagle will have to serve three years’ state probation. He’s already on five years of federal probation as a result of the Erbe case, and remains on the hook for $42,000 in restitution to the actress.
Much like his performance last month in a federal courtroom in Brooklyn, according to published reports, Nagle let his tears get the best of him after Brown dropped the hammer on Oct. 19, Shver said. He refused to admit that he had any malicious intent regarding Erbe and seemed astonished that Brown would send him to jail and separate him from his family after U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein had failed to do so.
Nagle’s wife and two teenage daughters attended but did not testify at last week’s hearing. Instead, the defense presented an expert medical witness who testified that Nagle was a “low risk to re-offend,” Shver said. It was the same expert who had testified for Nagle in federal court.
Meanwhile, the prosecution called Jeff Stone, Nagle’s probation officer in recent years, who testified that the defendant failed to notify him in advance of leaving Pennsylvania.
Brown found that Nagle violated his earlier probation in a technical sense by traveling to New York City without telling Stone, and that Nagle violated probation directly by his crimes against Erbe.
Brown could have ordered Nagle to serve up to 16 years behind bars.
Nagle avoided prison, at least initially, in the 1993 case despite pleading guilty to corrupting a minor, false imprisonment, indecent assault and related offenses. He was accused of trying to rape an underage girl that he grabbed off the street near his home, but the district attorney’ office dropped an attempted-rape charge in exchange for his plea. When the case finally made it to sentencing phase in 1996, a judge gave him 18 years’ probation.
Within weeks of that incident, and while the case was still pending, police again arrested Nagle after receiving a complaint that he grabbed a 14-year-old girl on the street and told her he wanted to have sex with her, only for her to fight him off and escape with the help of her 12-year-old sister. A Municipal Court judge later found Nagle not guilty of several misdemeanor charges in that case.
Nagle never made it onto Pennsylvania’s sex offender registry because his case pre-dated the state’s Megan’s Law.
Much like a bat in the sunlight, Nagle disappeared from the public eye for a while as he pursued his interests in comic-book characters and music. In 2005, he adopted the pseudonym Chaz Rose and landed an interview with the Northeast Times in which he discussed his eccentric pastime and boasted of his numerous public appearances as Batman.
The Times was unaware of his true identity and his sordid past.
But Nagle soon ran afoul of the law again. In March 2010, authorities from New York teamed with Philadelphia police to arrest Nagle at his home after Erbe complained that he had been stalking her and her family in person, by mail and via the Internet for about two years.
Erbe starred in Law and Order: Criminal Intent. In 1998, Nagle took his family to New York to view an on-location filming session and exchanged greetings with the actress, who posed for a snapshot with him. But when he began putting out creepy vibes, security escorted him away from the set.
In ensuing months, Nagle sent letters and messages via social-networking Web sites to Erbe and her family, including her 14-year-old daughter, according to the federal criminal case. In some communications, he expressed his devotion to the actress. In others, he taunted her family. In one instance, he posted a doctored photo of Erbe’s daughter with a cockroach drawn on her face and a dialogue bubble containing the words, “I’m ugly.” ••
Reporter William Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or firstname.lastname@example.org