Court documents uncovered by Target 11 raise new questions about Pittsburgh officer accused of rape

PITTSBURGH — Target 11 has uncovered disturbing and shocking comments made by a Pittsburgh Police officer who is now accused of raping a co-worker.

No criminal charges have been filed but the female police officer sent a lengthy email recently describing in detail what she claims happened.

And now Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle has uncovered some troubling statements made by the officer at the center of the rape allegation in a court case eight years ago.

In court documents, the officer in question admitted to making a sexually charged comment to a female police recruit.

It’s unclear if the officer was ever disciplined for the comment, but considering the most recent allegation, that comment years ago is raising some troubling new questions.

The officer, now under scrutiny again, was working with a female recruit in 2013 who had been having difficulty with field training, according to court documents obtained by Target 11.

The recruit was eventually fired, but she filed an appeal before the civil service commission, claiming there was not enough evidence to support the firing.

In court testimony from 2013 obtained by Target 11, the officer who’s now at the center of a rape allegation, admitted to making a sexually charged comment to a female recruit.

Recruit’s Attorney: Did you ever make the statement that you can’t work with women because you tend to want to have sex with them?

Officer: Yeah. I said something along those lines.

Attorney: Who did you say that to?

Officer: I said that to (name redacted).

Attorney: And do you feel that in any way impacted your evaluation or your ability to work with her?

Officer: No.

Attorney: But you said it, nonetheless?

Officer: Yes.

We showed the transcript of the officer’s testimony to Beth Pittinger, the executive director of the Pittsburgh Police Citizen Review Board.

“It’s totally inappropriate. It’s unprofessional, inappropriate, predatory, and causes great concern. By his own comments, his own testimony, it doesn’t look good for him. You know, looking back at character, and who are our police officers, and you have an officer who acknowledges he has problems with females, a female officer who is having struggles on the job,” said Pittinger.

The Civil Service Commission, while upholding the recruit’s firing, raised concerns about that comment and treatment she received from field training officers.

“While the Commission does not believe that the facts warrant a different outcome regarding Appellant’s termination, we are persuaded of Appellant’s sincerity and veracity regarding her allegations of inappropriate behavior ... and they raise serious questions about FTO (field training officer) standards and conduct that we believe warrant further review,” the Commission wrote in court documents.

It’s unclear if the department addressed the issues raised by the Civil Service Commission, and a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety declined to comment on the case.

The officer who admitted making that comment to the recruit eight years ago has now been accused by a co-worker of raping her at her home after a night of drinking and partying.

In an email sent by the female officer to every member of the police force, she wrote it began with a cookout at the zone five station in June where officers were drinking alcohol and then moved to bar in Lawrenceville. She also questioned whether she had been drugged because she couldn’t recall everything that happened, and she said she didn’t drink a lot.

She filed a complaint with the department after she says the officer admitted to her that he undressed her and got into bed with her.

And she claims the officer bragged to co-workers about having sex with her.

The city defended the handling of the case through a statement from Public Safety.

“It was thoroughly and independently investigated by Allegheny county police ... and the office of municipal investigations,” said a Public Safety spokesperson.

Earlier this month just minutes after he was sworn into office, the new mayor was asked about the allegations posed in the email.

“I will not make no comment, until I’m briefed on everything,” said Mayor Ed Gainey.

No charges were ever filed.

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s office also issued a statement.

“Crimes against women are some of the most difficult situations that our community faces far too often. Believing something happened and proving it criminally are two entirely different circumstances,” said District Attorney spokesman Mike Manko.

After an internal investigation, the department recommended firing the officer, but that was reduced to a three-day suspension and a transfer by the Public Safety Director, who was not retained by the new administration.

The female officer addressed that in the email.

“That was the value ... placed on my peace of mind, my sense of self, my psychological wellness ... I can’t even begin to tabulate everything I’ve lost, everything that was taken from me,” she wrote.

“Something happened and now we have where the accused officer, the subject officer has some history here. So, we have some, we have some inquiring to do,” said Pittinger, who has reached out to the female officer and offered any support she may need. Pittinger said the female officer is currently on military leave.

That case involving the recruit eight years ago ended in a settlement. It’s unclear what the settlement involved but the officer did not return to the force.