The actions of two officers accused of sexually assaulting a North Side woman in a police car were “inappropriate” and can’t be justified, Interim Chicago Police Supt. Terry Hillard said as he expressed his anger at a fresh black eye for his department.
Speaking on Thursday as detectives continued to investigate the alleged sex attack, Hillard said the officers were on duty when they picked up the woman near Sheffield and Addison early Wednesday morning. They drove her to a nearby spot where at least one of the officers allegedly sexually assaulted her, he said.
Both officers have been relieved of their police powers during the investigation and the Cook County State’s attorney’s office has been notified, though no charges had been filed yet, he said.
“I have to express my extreme outrage and disappointment that such accusations have been made against members of this department,” Hillard said.
If the allegations are “proven true, these officers will fully be held accountable and punished,” he added. “I will not tolerate this type of behavior; the Chicago Police Department will not tolerate this type of behavior.”
According to a police report, the 22-year-old victim was crying and walking outside after leaving a male friend’s home where they had been drinking and arguing.
A marked Chicago Police Tahoe SUV carrying two officers approached. They offered the woman a ride home, and she accepted, according to the report.
The woman told police that during the ride, she had sex with one of the officers in a passenger seat of the SUV and that she did not say “no,” according to the report. When they arrived at her apartment in the 1300 block of West Greenleaf, all three went inside, where they played strip poker and she had sex with one officer in her bed.
But then she began banging on her wall with her hands hoping to catch her neighbors’ attention because she felt intimidated by the officers and was afraid to say “no” to their sexual advances, the report said.
She got up and ran out of her apartment screaming and pounding on a male neighbor’s door, but he didn’t answer.
Another neighbor, a woman, saw her and called police, prompting an initial response about 3 a.m. for a “person calling for help.’’
When the male neighbor finally opened his door, he told police he saw a naked man running down the hallway and another man dressed in a Chicago Police uniform walking away, according to the report.
Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday, the neighbor, who declined to give his name, said he heard music coming from the woman’s room, then “a knocking sound and she was yelling ‘Help!’ ”
The neighbor left his room, saw that the victim seemed “panicky” and came to her aid as “the men left — one of the them was in a hurry but the other was calm,” he said. Still shaken, he added, “I can’t imagine what it was like for the other people involved.”
A cell phone belonging to one of the officers was found in the woman’s room, according to the report. The woman was taken to Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston for treatment.
The officers, both in their 30s, were represented by the same attorney when they went into Belmont Area police headquarters and invoked their Fifth Amendment rights, the report said.
Hillard said it was irrelevant whether the woman was drunk.
“That has nothing to do with the case,” he said. “What they had done — what they allegedly did — was inappropriate and it was against the law and that’s what we’re investigating.”
The officers were arrested and released and have been assigned to administrative duties while the investigation continues, he said.
Asked for his personal reaction to the allegations, even if the sexual acts proved to have been consensual, he said, “I’m a father. I also used to be a police officer before I retired and became interim superintendent. [It’s] inappropriate. You can’t justify it. We’ll continue our investigation and let the facts take us where they are and at the end of the day, at the end of the week or whenever this investigation comes to a conclusion and we prove our case and then . . . it is what it is.”
The Town Hall district officers have been on the job for about a decade, Lt. Maureen Biggane said.
Asked if they had exemplary careers, Hillard said, “I don’t think so.”