A recently retired Philadelphia police officer has been accused in a lawsuit of sexually assaulting a woman suffering from mental illness.
The officer, Thomas J. O’Neill, retired in September 2016, about three months after the alleged victim first told police he had sexually assaulted her, according to FOX29. It’s not clear whether O’Neill was ever arrested. He has not been charged with any crimes.
The woman, who is identified in the court documents as J.H., claims O’Neill “used his police authority while on duty to stalk and sexually assault” her, according to the lawsuit filed on Monday in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. Gregg Zeff, her attorney, says O’Neill first came into contact with J.H. sometime during or around Memorial Day weekend in 2016, when O’Neill was allegedly called to her home for a minor issue that did not result in a citation or arrest.
According to Zeff, O’Neill returned to J.H.’s apartment complex, where she was riding a bike outside, on July 3, 2016. The lawsuit claims that O’Neill, who was wearing a full uniform and carrying a gun, told the plaintiff to get in the front seat of his vehicle and then made lewd, racist and violent comments as he drove her to a nearby school and sexually assaulted her in the parking lot. The plaintiff claims the assault lasted about 90 minutes and that O’Neill did not once send or receive communication through his police radio during that time.
Zeff says the school’s security cameras caught parts of the sexual assault on camera and that the PPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau reviewed the footage in its investigation of the accusations. A police spokesperson declined to comment due to the pending litigation.
Chief deputy city solicitor Armando Brigandi, who will defend O’Neill, declined to comment, as did a spokesperson for the Philly District Attorney’s Office. The lawsuit also lists the city, Police Commissioner Richard Ross and former police commissioner Charles Ramsey as defendants.
The lawsuit claims that J.H. “has suffered and continues to suffer severe physical, mental and emotional anguish” as a result of the alleged assault. The plaintiff seeks at least $100,000 in compensation.
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