Updated Tuesday at 12:37 p.m.
A Forest Park police officer has been placed on paid administrative leave while state police investigate an allegation of sexual assault against him. No charges have been filed and no arrests have been made, village officials said, but a Forest Park woman reportedly named the officer in a criminal complaint filed with the local police department.
The alleged assault occurred during the late evening hours of Saturday, Aug. 11 or early morning hours of Aug. 12 when the officer was off duty, according to Mayor Anthony Calderone. The mayor said he was not aware of the circumstances leading up to the alleged assault, nor was he clear on the relationship between the officer and the woman.
The woman called police early Sunday morning to report the incident, Calderone said.
The accused off-duty officer had already left the woman’s home, where the rape is alleged to have occurred, when authorities responded to the call. The woman, who will not be identified in this story because she is the victim of an alleged assault, is a resident of Forest Park.
“There is no allegation of combative, physical harm,” Calderone said in an interview Friday. “This allegation centers around what would be considered a rape.”
The officer accused of the assault also will not be named in this story, pending an arrest, formal charges or substantive punitive action taken against him by the village.
Forest Park police did not question the off-duty officer accused in the incident, but did take responsibility for collecting some evidence. The alleged victim in the case was taken to an area hospital where medical staff conducted an examination consistent with a rape investigation, Calderone said.
Police Chief James Ryan is the village’s contact person for the Illinois State Police who are handling the case. Ryan refused Friday to answer any questions, saying only that he cannot comment on personnel matters.
The accused officer was placed on paid administrative leave upon arriving for his shift on Aug. 13, Calderone said. The suspect holds the rank of patrol officer and has been with the department for at least five years.
“The police chief made the responsible decision,” Calderone said of the sanction imposed.
Lt. Scott Compton with the Illinois State Police said the decision to bring charges in the case will be made by a Cook County state’s attorney once his office concludes its investigation. Compton did not offer a timeline for how long the inquiry might take, and said oftentimes a conversation with one witness will lead investigators to several more leads that must be checked.
“I can only tell you it’s an ongoing investigation,” Compton said.
Phone calls to the state’s attorney’s office in Maywood were not returned.
The Forest Park Police Department has endured its share of controversies in recent years, several of which stemmed from the behavior of individual officers. In 2002, three officers filed a sexual harassment suit against the department alleging that one of the female plaintiffs was groped at a social function sponsored by the department. That case was settled out of court in 2004.
In August of 2005, Ryan sought the termination of Sgt. Dan Harder who was one of the plaintiffs in the sexual harassment case. After a lengthy hearings process, Harder was fired by the Fire and Police Commission in February 2007 over his assertion of a conspiracy to retaliate against him for the 2002 civil case. A federal lawsuit filed by Harder in connection with his dismissal is still pending.
Amidst allegations of misconduct filed by the police chief in 2006, Lt. Steve Johnsen resigned from the department in January this year.
In May, the Review reported that during a recent eight-month span, department reports involving the use of a Taser stun gun were routinely withheld from the public at the same time that officers dramatically increased their use of the device.
Earlier this month it was revealed that a sergeant with the department has ties to Antoin “Tony” Rezko, who was indicted by federal investigators on corruption charges in October of 2006.
In light of these controversies and the accusation that one of the department’s officers committed rape, Calderone stood by the police chief and credited Ryan with weathering what has been a tumultuous period. Some of the recent controversies are bound to be “short-lived,” Calderone said, and will not impact the public’s trust in the department.
“I give [Ryan] a lot of credit for having the stick-to-itiveness,” Calderone said. “He’s had some very trying times in the few short years he’s been with the department.”