The Forest Park Village Council, at its Aug. 28 meeting, unanimously approved a resolution that rescinds the firing of a Forest Park police officer, Roberto Salas, and allows the 20-year veteran to collect his pension.
The council’s action is the latest twist in a months-long story. As reported by the Forest Park Review, Salas was fired in November 2016, shortly after a 47-year-old Forest Park woman accused him of sexual assault. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Professional Standards Unit (PSU) decided against charging Salas with sexual assault in early June. The Illinois State Police investigate officer-involved shootings and also possible misconduct, as in this case.
The woman filed a federal civil suit against Salas and the village in December 2016, alleging sexual assault. Parties in that suit, according to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, agreed to a settlement on Aug. 21.
At the Aug. 28 village council meeting, commissioners also unanimously approved a separate resolution agreeing to the Aug. 21 settlement in that federal case. The details of that settlement are not yet available. The Review filed a Freedom of Information Request, but it was not released as of press time because, according to Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz, all parties had not yet signed the agreement.
When reached by phone, Sept. 1, Village Administrator Tim Gillian declined comment.
“It is what it is,” Gillian said.
The alleged assault, the federal suit claimed, occurred Sept. 2, 2016 in the woman’s home while Salas was on duty and in full police uniform.
Forest Park police had previously responded to the woman’s residence for calls of domestic abuse. In late August, according to the suit, the woman got a two-year “protective order” and her husband was allowed to gather his belongings from the couple’s home — under police supervision — on Aug. 30. Salas was one of two officers present that day.
Salas, the suit claimed, stayed with the woman as her husband gathered his effects and gave her his business card and “invited her to contact him anytime if she ever needed help with anything, or even if she just needed a cup of coffee.”
The woman texted Salas the next day to “get together with him” and Salas said he would stop by. The next day, the suit says, Salas came by her home, was let inside by the woman and then “proceeded to sexually assault” her before leaving after getting a call on his police radio.
Salas, in his response to the lawsuit, denied sexually assaulting the woman.