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Ex-Philadelphia Detective Charged With Raping Witnesses, Suspects

A heavily redacted grand jury report outlines an alleged assault where the victim was forced to masturbate in a police interview room

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    Former Philadelphia Officer Accused of Sexually Assaulting Witnesses

    A former Philadelphia police officer is accused of rape, theft, stalking and more. Phillip Nordo has gotten away with this for more than a decade, according to investigators. He is now facing 35 charges.

    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019)

    A former Philadelphia Police Department detective pleaded not guilty Tuesday to allegations that he sexually assaulted male witnesses and suspects over more than a decade.

    Philip Nordo allegedly "groomed" his victims during ongoing investigations and engaged in conduct to make these men "more susceptible to his sexually assaultive and/ or coercive behavior," the heavily redacted grand jury report said.

    He was denied bail. His next hearing is set for late March.

    In their report, a Philadelphia grand jury recommended that Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner charge Nordo with several felony counts of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, indecent assault, stalking and dozens of related charges.

    A phone call to an attorney previously listed for Nordo was not immediately returned Tuesday.

    Nordo, 52, was fired in 2017 after serving 20 years on the force in some of the department's most prestigious units, including the Homicide Unit. 

    He first joined the police force in 1997 and was promoted to detective in 2002. Seven years later, he was on the Homicide Unit. During that time, Nordo allegedly "used his position of authority" to intimidate, rape and assault men associated with his cases. He then bullied them into silence, the heavily redacted report said.

    In at least one instance, Nordo stared at and commented on a man’s penis while the suspect was under arrest. He also discussed having sexual relationships with his victims over the phone using code words, the grand jury found.

    He asked incarcerated sources to tell him when so-called “homosexual inmates” were to be released “so he could have sex with them or sexually groom them,” according to the report.

    Much of this behavior occurred during active investigations. He also volunteered to work closely with his victims, including transporting inmates and witnesses for other detectives. These encounters allowed him to identify new victims or conceal his relationships with existing victims, the report said. 

    He often targeted people who were already handcuffed or shackled, according to the grand jury findings.

    He also diverted up to $20,000 from the mayor's office's Crime Reward Program to the victims he favored. Nordo would pay off his victims using city money, according to prosecutors, with the detective submitting witnesses involvement in investigations to crime reward programs.

    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.

    In one 2005 encounter, Nordo allegedly forced a robbery suspect to masturbate in front of him. He then gave his victim a cigarette. That victim reported the incident to another officer who then called the department's Internal Affairs Division.

    Officers from Internal Affairs conducted an interview with the victim, according to the grand jury's report. The victim was murdered 10 years later — a case that remains unsolved.

    The status of the internal investigation remains unclear.

    A spokesman for the Philadelphia Police Department did not immediately have comment.

    A spokesman for the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police said the organization will not represent Nordo during his legal battle.

    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.

    Krasner declined to comment on the case during a Tuesday news conference, but said it was "far too early" to speculate whether past cases involving Nordo will be compromised as a result of the report.