The Forest Park Police Department has fired a veteran police officer after a Forest Park woman accused him of raping her in September. Officer Roberto Salas, who had been on the force for 20 years, was dismissed Nov. 30.
Deputy Police Chief Michael Keating confirmed the termination but declined further comment, citing pending litigation.
“We can’t discuss it right now,” Keating said. “Obviously, when we can, we will.”
A 47-year-old Forest Park woman filed a civil suit seeking unspecified monetary damages on Dec. 12 in U.S. District Court.
The suit also names the village of Forest Park as a co-defendant. Illinois State Police are investigating the incident for possible criminal charges, according to the complaint.
The woman and her estranged husband, according to the suit, have a combative relationship and Forest Park police have responded several times to domestic calls at their home, according to the suit. The woman secured a restraining order against her husband in August 2016, requiring him to leave the home.
On Aug. 30, the woman’s husband, under the supervision of two officers, including Salas, returned home to gather his belongings. At that time, the suit claims, Salas gave the woman his card and told her to call him “anytime if she ever needed help with anything, or even if she just needed a cup of coffee.”
On Sept. 2, the woman took Salas up on his coffee offer, and he allegedly stopped by her home, in full police uniform and in a police cruiser that afternoon. Then, according to the lawsuit, Salas sexually assaulted the woman before getting a call on his police radio and leaving.
After the incident, according to the lawsuit, the woman called a domestic violence hotline and an attorney, who urged her to report it to the Illinois State Police and to go to a hospital, where a rape kit was performed.
It’s not the first time someone has lodged a complaint alleging sexual misconduct by a Forest Park police officer. In 2014, the village paid a former police intern $650,000 after she alleged that a police detective assaulted her. In 2007, a Forest Park resident accused an off-duty officer of rape, but no criminal charges were filed.
The Dec. 12 lawsuit states that “policymakers for the village of Forest Park were on notice prior of this pattern of sexual misconduct as of September 2016 and did not take meaningful steps to address the problem, thereby exhibiting deliberate indifference” and that “the policies and customs of the village of Forest Park were the moving force behind Officer Salas’ misconduct.”
More recently, Salas was also named as a defendant, along with village officials and other police officers, in a federal suit brought a local couple claiming civil rights violations, trespassing and abuse. The suit was eventually dropped but the couple received nearly 30,000 dollars from the village.