Inquiry finds suburban cop lied when asked about sex abuse case
BY CASEY TONER email@example.com June 16, 2013 10:07PM
Updated: July 18, 2013 6:39AM
An internal police inquiry into Justice police officer Carmen Scardine, accused in a federal lawsuit of forcing a woman to perform oral sex in his squad car, found that he broke department policy, abused his police powers, lied about the incident and may have violated the law, according to documents.
Scardine, who is not facing criminal charges, was suspended for 27 days last summer in connection with the incident and allowed to use vacation time to cover the penalty, as permitted by the police union contract, village officials said.
Scardine, who is trying to get disability pay after being on extended medical leave, and the village are named in the lawsuit filed in November by the woman.
Justice officials say they can’t fire Scardine because of a deal he cut with former Police Chief Robert Gedville to take the suspension — despite the serious nature of the allegations, the pending federal lawsuit and Scardine’s past misdeeds with the police department.
“You can’t punish him again for what he’s already been punished for,” Trustee Richard Symonds said.
Records show Scardine became a Justice officer despite a troubled work history as a cop. He did not return multiple calls seeking comment for this story.
Scardine was previously fired from the Tinley Park Police Department for breaking its on-duty conduct code and was suspended by Posen police for lying after hitting a woman’s car with his police car, according to records. He also allegedly entered a grade school on personal business while wearing a police T-shirt, pulled a student out of class and threatened him in a closed room for supposedly harassing his stepdaughter, according to Posen police records
Scardine was also disciplined numerous times in his first job as a part-time police officer in Blue Island, including being suspended for 15 days in July 1990 for backing his squad car into a light pole and not reporting the accident to police, among other violations.
Sex on duty?
In the incident that resulted in the lawsuit, a Burbank woman filed a complaint with Justice police in May 2012, claiming that Scardine forced her to perform oral sex on him May 5, 2012, according to a Justice police report.
The woman told police that she had left an apartment at the Willow Hills complex and was waiting for a cab when Scardine pulled up and asked her several questions, including what she was doing and whether she had any identification, according to a police report.
She said Scardine asked if she wanted to sit in the squad car to get out of the cold. The woman said the officer then left his car, and opened a passenger door for her to get in, which she did while he returned to the driver’s seat.
Scardine told investigators that he started talking to the woman because she looked “out of place” at the apartment complex, appeared drunk and he was worried about her safety. He said he initially persuaded her to get in the back seat but had her move to the front passenger seat because he couldn’t hear her.
While in the front seat, the woman began rubbing Scardine’s arm and hand and attempted to kiss him, he told Justice police investigating the allegations.
“She initiated kissing me, French kissing me,” Scardine told police in a videotaped interrogation after the woman filed a complaint. “She reached over and started kissing me and telling me I was a nice man and, ‘I’ll give you my phone number and you call me and we can go out.’ She reached over and started kissing me and I pushed away and just sat there. I was kind of stunned.’ ”
Scardine initially said he did not inform a dispatcher that he had a woman in his squad car, as required by department policy, according to records of the internal investigation into the case.
The woman claimed that when the cab arrived, Scardine told the driver, “Stay here, I will drive her right back,” according to a police report she filed in the case. She alleged Scardine drove her to a dark area of the apartment complex, exited the police car, opened her door and blocked her from getting out while he unzipped his pants. The woman said she did not try to get out or scream and performed oral sex on him, according to the police report she filed.
Scardine then drove her to the cab and left, but she did not take the cab and returned to the apartment and told everyone what happened, the woman said. About 15 minutes later, she went to a bar with another man and later spent the night with him at a motel, police said.
Scardine told investigators that he drove the woman in his car to look for one of her friends, parked between two apartment buildings, got out to look for the friend and then drove the woman back to the cab that was waiting. He denied having any sexual contact with her.
The police department’s investigation sustained the woman’s complaints against Scardine — finding that he violated regulations by soliciting a sexual relationship while on duty, having sex while on duty, using an unlawful exercise of authority, making false statements, failing to disclose facts during an investigation, exceeding his police power and breaking the law.
Gedville asked Cook County sheriff’s police to investigate the case for possible criminal charges, but sheriff’s police closed that inquiry June 21 after the woman refused to sign a complaint, saying she didn’t want her husband “to find out some facts of the case,” according to police documents.
Scardine was suspended for the 27 days without pay, signing a July 9 agreement with Gedville that says in part that “Officer Scardine admits to no wrongdoing.”
At a December village board meeting, Justice Mayor Kris Wasowicz read a statement in which he said Gedville apparently decided not to fire Scardine because he believed he would not be able to prove the allegations before the village’s police and fire commission. The village board fired Gedville three days later, in part because of his handling of Scardine’s discipline.
It’s not unusual for a police officerto be fired for such misconduct. For example, Flossmoor officer Larry Hall was dismissed in 2010 after twice having sex with a woman in a police car while on duty.
Scardine was put on paid administrative leave after he was named in the lawsuit and then went on extended medical leave in December, according to village Trustee Melanie Kuban. She said Scardine was not “fit for duty” when his medical leave ended, and he has now applied for disability pay.
Trustee Edward Rusch Jr. said the village board’s “hands are tied” in further punishing Scardine because of Gedville’s disciplinary decision.
“We’re between a rock and a hard place,” Rusch said. “We can’t discipline him for what has already happened.”
Scott Kamin, the attorney for the woman who’s suing Scardine, said it was “really pathetic” that Scardine was “left on the streets like that. Police officers have so much responsibility and so much power. If they misuse it, there can really be problems.”