North Carolina

Officer investigating rape cases sent lewd messages to victim, North Carolina cops say

A detective with the Fayetteville Police Department was fired earlier this year after he sent messages to at least one sexual assault victim whose case he investigated, police said Thursday.

The department terminated Paul G. Matrafailo III, 33, in a letter dated May 7, 2019, citing instances in which he allegedly sent inappropriate messages — including some sent via Instagram to a woman whose rape case he had worked.

“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.

The letter was initially released through a public records request to The Fayetteville Observer, which published a story early Thursday about the firing.

“In an effort to support transparency, and uphold the public trust, the attached documents are the same documents provided to The Fayetteville Observer at their request,” Sgt. Jeremy Glass told McClatchy news group in an email Thursday.

The department received a complaint in March alleging that Matrafailo had “contacted a sexual assault victim via Instagram and began a conversation with her which she felt was inappropriate,” documents show.

“You were the detective that investigated this victim’s sexual assault case in September 2016,” the termination letter states. “Although detectives sometimes follow up with victims, you had not spoken with this victim since shortly after her trial and she had never provided you with her social media contact information.”

The Fayetteville Observer reported that the messages contained references to lingerie as well as a tongue emoji and a wink emoji.

The victim called the messages “shocking and inappropriate,” the newspaper reported.

Matrafailo, who started at the police department in 2009, had also been reprimanded in May 2018 for “sending inappropriate and offensive comments” to forensic technicians, the letter states. Police said he also shared “video of a case to someone not working on the case.”

He was placed on administrative duty around the same time, according to documents.

Matrafailo was issued a notice of consideration of dismissal on April 1. He appealed, but Chief Gina V. Hawkins — who signed the termination letter — said she decided to fire him after reviewing the facts and taking into consideration information from his personnel file and his testimony.

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Hayley is a Real Time reporter at The Charlotte Observer covering breaking news and trending stories in the Carolinas. She also created the Observer’s unofficial bird beat (est. 2015) with a summer full of ornithological-related content, including a story about Barred Owls in love.