Local News

Fayetteville detective fired over inappropriate messages sent to rape victims

Posted September 26, 2019 7:52 a.m. EDT
Updated September 27, 2019 3:46 p.m. EDT

— The Fayetteville Police Department has fired a detective accused of sending inappropriate messages to women who had been raped, authorities said Thursday.

Paul G. Matrafailo III, who started working for the department 10 years ago and was part of the department's Crisis Intervention Team, was dismissed by the Fayetteville Police Department in May, according to his dismissal letter.

Deanne Gerdes, executive director of the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County, said 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."

Gerdes told WRAL News that she asked one rape victim if she could inform Matrafailo's bosses about the inappropriate communication.

"She said yes," Gerdes said, adding that her agency has worked with a second woman who came forward. "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."

Erin Scanlon agreed to be identified by WRAL News. She said her emotional wounds were reopened in April when Matrafailo, who investigated her rape case, started sending inappropriate messages over social media.

She still has those messages on her phone. Some of them reference lingerie she was planning to buy.

She said she feels violated twice, including by an officer who had access to intimate personal information after doing a complete download of her phone for the rape investigation.

"He saw the scene (and) the safe exam (and) the rape kit which has pictures of my entire body," she said.

A second rape victim from Matrafailo's case files also complained he sent sexually suggestive messages to her.

The disclosure led to an internal affairs probe, which was followed by the detective's dismissal.

Matrafailo was also reprimanded for sharing video from a case with someone who was not working on the case as well as communicating inappropriate messages to co-workers.

On May 7, the police department sent a dismissal letter by certified mail to Matrafailo, who began his employment with the department on July 27, 2009.

The letter states that, on April 1, 2019, he was issued a notice of Consideration of Dismissal because of actions outside of work that “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.

Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West said an investigation is underway, but no criminal charges have been filed against the former detective.

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