Ex-Philadelphia police officer accused of sexually assaulting witnesses, suspects

PHILADELPHIA -- A former Philadelphia police officer was arrested Tuesday on allegations he sexually assaulted male witnesses and suspects over his decade-plus career as a detective.

Philip Nordo was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon on a more than 35-count grand jury presentment. Much of the grand jury report was redacted to protect the identity of victims in the allegations, but a handful of pages were unsealed showing multiple accusations of rape, intimidation, sexual misconduct and theft of city funds.

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Ex-officer accused of sexually assaulting witnesses, suspects. Rick Williams reports during Action News at Noon on February 19, 2019.

A spokesman for the Philadelphia district attorney's office declined to comment further on the recommended charges against the 52-year-old former police department veteran. Nordo, who was working in the homicide division at the time, was fired in 2017 after allegations were made that he placed funds in a witness' commissary account and that he had fraternized with people who were connected to criminal investigations.

A phone call to an attorney previously listed for Nordo was not immediately returned Tuesday. A spokesman for the police union said union officials had reviewed the charges and would not be representing Nordo.

Authorities alleged Nordo used his position to intimidate and groom male suspects and witnesses into sexual acts.

One victim reported in 2005 when he was arrested, Nordo goaded him into masturbating in an interrogation room, alleging the detective kissed him during the encounter, according to the report.

That victim reported the incident to jail employees, but it was unclear from the report whether any disciplinary action was taken. The grand jury report noted the victim has since died in a homicide and the case has not been solved.

The report said Nordo asked that homosexual inmates who were being prepared for release be referred to him and that he regularly volunteered to transport suspects or witnesses for other detectives, often using that time alone to allegedly ask personal questions that might allow him to cultivate relationships.

Authorities said victims alleged Nordo would display his firearm during these grooming sessions and would tell suspects no one would believe them if they reported the alleged incidents.

"It is absolutely despicable," said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross. "It's reprehensible. That's why we got rid of him."

Police Commissioner Richard Ross fired Nordo in 2017 after learning of some of the allegations. Which ones he wouldn't elaborate.

"We have been able to determine as part of our investigation both here and the grand jury that no one else is connected to this in any way," said Ross.

The potential charges also include a count of theft by deception because authorities said Nordo filed false claims for reward money and other incentives worth a total of about $20,000 for some of the victims.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in July the district attorney's office had agreed not to challenge the dismissal of charges in at least one murder case where Nordo had been accused of having inappropriate contact with several witnesses. A second suspect who had pleaded guilty to charges in the same homicide was granted immediate parole instead of being sentenced to potential decades in prison.

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