Hearing postponed for Rostraver physician charged with assault

Suspect accused in incident involving traffic flagger in Carroll Township

September 7, 2017
Rostraver Township physician Karim Bitar, right, leaves district court in Charleroi Thursday after his preliminary hearing was postponed. - Scott Beveridge/Observer-Reporter Order a Print

CHARLEROI – A preliminary hearing was continued Thursday for a Rostraver Township physician charged with assaulting a traffic-control flagger in June while she worked in a construction zone in Carroll Township.

Karim Bitar, 37, informed the office of District Judge Larry Hopkins he needed time to find out if a simple assault conviction would harm his licence to practice medicine, a court official said.

Carroll police filed a string of misdemeanor charges in August against Bitar, accusing him of grabbing the flagger’s wrist and taking her smartphone June 15 to prevent her from calling police during an alleged road-rage incident at Routes 837 and 88.

Bitar, of 608 Skyline Drive, drove off after another motorist got out of a vehicle with a baseball bat, police said.

Police accused Bitar of becoming angry when he was stopped in southbound traffic on Route 88 after another flagger allowed a car in front of him to make a right turn into a grocery store parking lot.

Bitar thought traffic was moving and he could continue south on Route 88, police said, but the first flagger made him stop again. There was an exchange of words after the female flagger stopped his vehicle, and then he allegedly drove off at a speed of about 50 mph, police said.

The second flagger, Felicia Premich, 21, of Acme, stopped Bitar’s vehicle a second time, reminding him the road wasn’t a racetrack, and that’s when he allegedly got out and assaulted her, according to police.

He is charged with simple assault, harassment, disorderly conduct, speeding and failing to obey an authorized person directing traffic.

Bitar resigned his affiliation with Mon Valley Hospital after the incident, a hospital spokesman said.

Hopkins agreed to continue the hearing until 9 a.m. Oct. 5.

Bitar’s attorney, Timothy Joseph Lyon of Pittsburgh, could not be reached Thursday afternoon.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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