Detective accused of sexually assaulting and threatening male witnessesFebruary 20, 2019
A former Philadelphia homicide detective has been accused of sexually assaulting male witnesses during criminal probes and then intimidating them to keep them silent, according to a report.
Philip Nordo, 52, was fired in 2017 after 20 years on the force after an allegation that he improperly paid a witness and had fraternized with people connected to criminal conduct.
The new accusations against Nordo were unveiled Tuesday in a grand jury presentment following a long-running probe into his conduct, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The charges cited in the 38-page document include multiple counts each of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and sexual assault.
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The grand jury found that the ex-cop “repeatedly contacted young men that he sought to groom,” and used threats and flattery to “make the targets of his advances more susceptible to his sexually assaultive and/or coercive behavior.”
Nordo threatened to arrest or jail suspects without probable cause, fraudulently steered reward money their way and exerted his authority by displaying his firearm and targeting handcuffed prisoners at times, according to prosecutors.
He allegedly tried to find potential victims by asking prisoners about “homosexual inmates” who might soon be released and by volunteering to transport prisoners and witnesses for other detectives, authorities said.
Nordo was arraigned Tuesday and ordered held without bail.
His attorney, Michael T. van der Veen, said Nordo maintains his innocence and intends to fight the case.
The lawyer said he believes that District Attorney Larry Krasner’s prosecution was motivated by unspecified “political forces.”
Police union chief John McNesby told the Inquirer that he had not yet read the presentment, adding that he had “no idea” how Nordo could have committed such crimes during his official duties.
Police Commissioner Richard Ross said he was “deeply disturbed” by the “absolutely sickening” allegations.
“I have nothing from our investigation to suggest [the police department] has to be concerned” about others aiding Nordo or covering up his alleged crimes, he told the paper.
“It is not systemic, but I don’t get a lot of solace over that,” he added.
According to the presentment, prosecutors said that in 2005, Nordo ordered a man being questioned to masturbate, then touched and kissed him during the act.
The man reported it to police the next day, the document says. Investigators later found physical evidence to support the man’s claim, according to the document, but Nordo remained on the force.
In 2015, the unidentified man was killed and the case was never solved.
The rest of the allegations against Nordo are blacked out in the document, but other counts he faces include stalking, official oppression and sexual assault.
Nordo’s career began unraveling in April 2017, when a defense attorney in a murder case found out that the detective had been improperly placing money in an imprisoned witness’ account.
The attorney, Robert Gamburg, said he had not been informed about the transactions and argued that the case against his client, Darnell Powell, should be dismissed.
Four months later, Nordo was axed for departmental violations including “knowingly and intentionally associating, fraternizing, or socializing” with people connected to criminal conduct, police said at the time.
In July 2018, a judge dismissed the case against Powell over what she called Nordo’s “outrageous” misconduct.
Another man charged in the same homicide — who had already pleaded guilty — was instead granted immediate parole soon after and given five years’ probation.
It was unclear Tuesday how many other prosecutions Nordo’s arrest might affect.
Gary Server, whose client was arrested by Nordo, said he was reviewing Brandon Meade’s murder case to determine the former detective’s role.
Meade is serving a life sentence after being convicted of murdering his 21-year-old girlfriend, a Temple University student, then staging the scene to look like she had committed suicide.
“It looks like a lot, if not all of his cases, are going back for review,” Server said.
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