Cop fired for suggestive messages to rape victim

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Facebook/Fayetteville Police

A North Carolina police officer has been fired for sending suggestive messages to a sex assault victim whose case he led, officials say.

Officer Paul Matrafailo spoke in a way the victim “felt was inappropriate”, his dismissal letter says.

Erin Scanlon told CBS News it was “frustrating to again be sexualised. By a police officer who was supposed to be on my side”.

He had served with the Fayetteville Police Department for 10 years.

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CBS News

The dismissal letter to Mr Matrafailo reads: “You were the detective that investigated this victim’s sexual assault case in September of 2016.

“Although detectives sometimes follow up with victims, you had not spoken with this victim since shortly after her trial and she had never provided you with her social media contact information.”

He was fired in May this year, but the details of the case have only now come to light.

Screenshots provided to CBS by Ms Scanlon show Mr Matrafailo had asked her how she was doing.

He then asked about an Amazon shopping list she had posted, including a link to lingerie.

He wrote: “Jw [just wondering] why u have a wish list up? :p”.

“Some interesting things on there ha ;)”.

Ms Scanlon said to CBS: “How did you [Mr Matrafailo] ever think that was appropriate to say to anyone ever, let alone someone you met because you’re investigating their rape?”

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Erin Scanlon said it was “frustrating” to have been sexualised by the police officer

Mr Matrafailo allegedly started messaging Ms Scanlon on Instagram in March 2019.

Ms Scanlon said what was especially distressing is that Mr Matrafailo had seen all the evidence in the case, including a rape kit and pictures of her body.

Mr Matrafailo’s dismissal letter details other incidents of off-duty misconduct, including excessive drinking and a domestic incident involving threats of fatal harm.

Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West told the BBC the charges were “very disturbing”.

An independent agency has launched an investigation to see if any criminal conduct had occurred, Mr West said.

Mr Matrafailo could not be reached for contact.

Deanne Gerdes, who works with the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County, told the BBC: “Just imagine being a rape victim and having a detective treat you this way?

“I can’t wrap my mind around it.”

Ms Gerdes told the BBC seven similar instances have been reported against Mr Matrafailo dating from before and after he was fired.

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