A woman who sued the village of Forest Park last year, accusing an on-duty Forest Park police officer of raping her inside her home, will be paid $191,000 to settle the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court last December.
According to the terms of the settlement agreement, obtained by the Forest Park Review through a Freedom of Information request, $100,000 of the settlement payment will come from the village of Forest Park and $85,000 will come from the village’s insurer, Illinois Counties Risk Management Trust. An additional $6,000 will come from the village out of funds that were to be paid to the accused officer, Roberto Salas, in sick leave pay owed to him.
Salas, a 20-year veteran of the Forest Park Police Department, retired from the force in August. Police Chief Thomas Aftanas initially had fired Salas from his job two weeks prior to the woman filing suit in federal court.
However, Salas never was charged with a crime. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, based on an investigation undertaken by the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force, informed the village last April it “found no conduct by the officer which would give rise to criminal charges.”
The Illinois State Police’s investigative report, which includes some 800 pages of documents, has been partially obtained by the Forest Park Review through a Freedom of Information request.
Interviews that investigators conducted with both Salas and his accuser reveal that both parties admitted that they engaged in sex at the woman’s home on Sept. 2, 2016. However, the stories diverge with respect to whether any sexual contact was consensual. Salas, in response to the lawsuit, denied he had sexually assaulted the woman.
After the village and the officer’s accuser agreed to settlement terms, the Forest Park Village Council passed a resolution allowing Salas to retire, effective Nov. 28, 2016, terminating his employment with the village. Salas, because he was not convicted of a felony, is eligible by law to receive severance and pension benefits per the village’s contract with the Fraternal Order of Police, the union which represents Forest Park police officers.
The retirement agreement indicates that the village and Salas had a matter pending before the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which provides mediation services for companies and government agencies in labor disputes. The matter before the federal mediator concerned Salas’ termination, according to the agreement approved by the village council.
The retirement agreement also noted Salas would be paid about $3,200 in back wages and about $10,000 in accrued sick leave pay.
The village council had approved the retirement agreement and the settlement with the officer’s accuser back in August. However, the settlement agreement with the woman wasn’t finalized until Oct. 12, when a federal judge granted the woman’s motion to enforce the settlement agreement, minus language added by the village’s attorneys after a settlement conference earlier that month.
This story has been changed to clarify that the retirement agreement between Salas and the village was passed to terminate the police officer’s employment with the village. The agreement had no bearing on Salas’ ability to obtain pension benefits or severance payouts that were governed by the union contract.