North Carolina Detective Sends Suggestive Texts To Rape Victims; Loses His Job

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North Carolina Detective Sends Suggestive Texts To Rape Victims; Loses His Job

A North Carolina cop has been fired for sending sexually suggestive texts to victims of sexual assault. Paul Matrofailo got to know the women as the officer investigating their cases. Now, several women have come forward to complain about the way he found them online and sent them racy messages. They found the messages so distrubing that they went to their counselors at the local Rape Crisis Center and the staff there helped address the issue with Matrofailo's boss. Now the Fayetteville Police Department has reviewed his conduct and fired him for cause.

Who is Paul Matrofailo? Read on for all the details. 

1. Long time officer

According to reports by WRAL Paul G. Matrafailo III started working for the Fayetteville Police department 10 years ago. He was part of the department's Crisis Intervention Team. No other details of his career have been reported but his job had him in contact with sexual assault victims. One of them, Erin Scanlon, said he was present during some of the most sensitive parts of the investigation. "He saw the scene (and) the safe exam (and) the rape kit which has pictures of my entire body," she said.

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2. Suggestive private messages

Erin Scanlon said it was months after her case when Matrafailo reached out to her via Instagram, even though her username doesn't have her real name in it. “He didn’t contact me on Instagram until nine months after (the) case was over,” she told the Fayetteville Observer. “Obviously he was still following me on social media. I have no idea how he found me on social media.″

Scanlon said Matrafailo made suggestive remarks about some lingerie in a link on her page and commented about how interesting that was, including a tongue emoji and a wink emoji. “It was shocking and inappropriate,” she said. “It was honestly a little bit unbelievable that he would think of me that way or think it’s OK to talk to me like that.” She was justifiably upset by the exchange. “It’s like, really? Another guy that is trying to hit on me when he is supposed to be a police officer,” she said.

Victims have come forward about his inappropriate messages.

3. Flirting with a married victim

Erin Myers said that Matrofailo had been investigating a sexual assault case in which she was the victim. She told the Fayetteville Observer that Matrofailo started contacting her privately while investigating her case. She told reporters that things started to get “weird” when he learned that she was in nursing school.

“He was like, ‘Oh, are you going to be in a nursing outfit?’” she said. “I kind of dismissed it. I told my husband about it and he said, ‘This is not normal behavior.’ It was suggestive. (Matrafailo) said, ‘Oh, are you going to be in a nursing outfit? Do you want to come practice on me?’ It was just awkward. I didn’t understand what he was trying to do.” She even wondered if Matrafailo might be testing her to see if she was flirtatious as it related to her rape case. “I didn’t respond because I didn’t know what angle he was coming from, so then I didn’t hear from him,” she said.

She didn't hear from the detective again until her nursing school graduation when he texted her. “He said, ‘Hey, how are you doing? Are you still mad at me?’ I didn’t recognize the number,” Myers said. “I said, ‘I’m sorry, you have the wrong number.’ He goes, ‘Don’t play me. You know who this is.’ It took me a second to realize who it was."

“I said to my husband, oh my God, this is Matrafailo. I told him I could not talk right now. My family is here for my graduation. And he’s like, ‘Oh you graduated. Let me take you out. I care for you.’”

At that point, Myers went to her caseworker at the Rape Crisis Center to share her concerns about the officer and the case worker asked her to turn over the texts.

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4. Rape Crisis Center intervention

Deanne Gerdes is the executive director of the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County. She told WRAL that three rape victims informed her that Matrafailo, who was handling their cases, was sending inappropriate messages to them via text or social media. “Imagine being raped and then having your rape detective hitting on you. It’s disgusting,” she said. "I asked [one woman] in what context she was getting the messages and what they were saying. She said they were sexual in nature."

After hearing the repeated allegations, Gerdes asked if one woman would mind if she went to the police department with the information. "She said yes," Gerdes said. "They were scared to do that, but we've worked with them. They're getting counseling, and we're helping them through everything they've been through."

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5. Notice of dismissal by the police department

The messages were deemed serious enough that the police department has now fired Matrofailo. On May 7, the Police Department sent him a dismissal letter, according to the Fayetteville Observer. The letter states that as far back as April 1, 2019, he was issued a notice of Consideration of Dismissal. “The grounds for the Consideration of Dismissal were based on your actions outside of duty hours which diminished your ability to fulfill your responsibilities as a police officer and which could bring discredit upon the city and the Fayetteville Police Department,” the letter states.

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It goes on to say that on May 31, 2018, a Matrafailo was given a written reprimand or “unbecoming conduct for sending inappropriate and offensive comments and sharing video of a case to someone not working on the case.” The letter adds that an investigation was initiated in April 2018 regarding the inappropriate messaging, and “concluded the comments sent to the Forensic Technicians were perceived as inappropriate and offended them.”

The lewd messages led to his dismissal.

6. Dismissal final after hearing

ABC 11 reports that FPD served Matrafailo a Notice of Administrative Investigation on March 15 and he attended a hearing conducted by Chief Gina Hawkins on May 2. Chief Hawkins reviewed the testimony and other evidence then terminated Matrafailo five days later.

At this time, there is no criminal investigation into Matrofailo and he is no longer working for the police department. But staff at the rape crisis center believe there could be more women affected. They are offering to counsel those who step forward. Erin Scanlon agrees. "Don't be afraid to stand up for what's right, because you're the only person that can fully stand up for yourself and the truth will come out eventually," she said.

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.