Allegheny County

Pittsburgh police officer accused of raping female officer barred from any contact with her

PITTSBURGH — An Allegheny County judge has barred a Pittsburgh police officer from any contact with a female officer who accused him of raping her.

Target 11 obtained a copy of that ruling after a female officer filed paperwork, asking the court to grant a permanent protective order against the officer.

The judge in the case also made some very strong comments about the case.

She said she found evidence that the female officer was the victim of sexual violence and that she is still in danger of harm.

The judge issued the order after the male officer, whom we are not naming because he has not been charged criminally, was ordered to appear at a protection hearing earlier this month.

A spokesperson for the Pittsburgh Public Safety Department told Target 11 that the city will abide by the court order, but the city offered no details and declined to discuss the matter further.

According to the court order, the officer is “restrained from having any contact with the victim, including, but not limited to, restrained from entering the victim’s residence, place of employment, business or school.” The order also states that the officer is “prohibited from indirect contact with the victim through third parties.”

The judge said the officer is responsible for all costs associated with the case.

The executive director of the Citizen Police Review Board, Beth Pittinger, told Target 11 that the ruling raised some troubling questions about the officer’s future.

“So, how does the accused remain qualified to be a police officer? Can that individual conduct and perform essential duties of the job. Why would we be bending law enforcement in the city of Pittsburgh to accommodate someone who has demonstrated in the eyes of the court that his behavior in the eyes of the court is not acceptable?” said Pittinger.

It all came to light several months ago, when the female officer, who worked at Zone 5 in East Liberty, sent a lengthy email to every officer on the force, claiming that she had been raped by a co-worker after a night of drinking and partying. The email contained explicit details. The officer was also highly critical of the former public safety director, whom she said only suspended the officer and transferred him to another zone.

Multiple law enforcement sources confirmed that disciplinary action with Target 11. Those sources also said the police chief had recommended firing the officer but the public safety director overturned that decision.

A spokesperson for the Public Safety Department has said that the case was thoroughly and independently investigated by Allegheny County Police and the city’s Office of Municipal Investigations.

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the findings and determined that no criminal charges should be filed.

In the civil protection order, the judge wrote, “The court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the Plaintiff is the victim of sexual violence. At a minimum, The defendant committed the act of sexual assault. The court further finds that the Plaintiff is at a continued risk of harm from the Defendant. As set forth in the Findings and Purpose of the Statute, the harm can include further interactions with the offender.”

When asked about the judge’s findings in the civil case and why criminal charges were never filed, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office said the standard of proof in a criminal case is significantly different and requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Pittinger says the findings are still very troubling.

“It’s not comforting to know that we have an individual who has been ordered to stay away from another individual who also happens to be a police officer. What does that say to the community about that individual’s worthiness to be employed as a city police officer? It’s, it’s very, very disconcerting,” said Pittinger.

Lisa Bennington, an attorney who represents the female officer, initially said she had no comment on the judge’s ruling, but later sent a statement to Target 11.

“I was honored to play a small part in her voice not being silenced and justice prevailing,” said Bennington.

Nicole Nino represents the male officer. She said they are considering appealing the judge’s order.

Allegheny County Police confirmed they conducted the criminal investigation, but told Target 11 they are not involved in the civil protection case.

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