PHILADELPHIA – An ex-Philadelphia homicide detective Philip Nordo, 52, has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting witnesses and suspects associated with crimes. His criminal conduct was reportedly committed while working as a cop.
In a case that casts a dark shadow over the Philadelphia Police Department, Nordo was arrested Tuesday and charged with 25 counts of criminal misconduct, including multiple accusations of rape, intimidation, sexual misconduct, and theft of city funds reported WPVI-TV.
According to a 35-page grand jury presentment, Nordo “used his power and position to coerce and intimidate his potential victims.”
“He cultivated relationships (with) male suspects (and) witnesses, or individuals who may or may not have been related to an investigation,” the presentment states, according to Philadelphia Metro. “Nordo cultivated these relationships by grooming the individuals, engaging in conduct to make the targets of his advances more susceptible to his sexually assaultive and/or coercive behavior. He also used intimidation and manipulation to keep his victims from coming forward.”
Nordo had a lengthy career in local enforcement. After becoming a police officer in 1997, he later became a detective in 2002 and joined the Homicide Unit in 2009.
One incident described in the presentment allegedly happened in April 2005 in the Philadelphia Police Department’s East Detective Division, where a defendant told officers Nordo had engaged in a sexual assault.
In the process of obtaining a signed confession from the defendant, whose identity was redacted in the public copy of the presentment, Nordo also allegedly kissed the man and forced him to masturbate in an interrogation room, reported Philadelphia Metro.
After the man told other officers about the incident, Internal Affairs and a Crime Scene Unit found semen in the interrogation room, helping to corroborate the claim. (The individual in this incident was later the victim of an unsolved murder in 2015.)
Nordo now faces 25 counts for this and an undisclosed number of other similar incidents, which the presentment stated occurred in interrogation rooms, official visiting rooms at prisons, and with other people he met while working as a police officer, reported Philadelphia Metro.
Moreover, the presentment further states that Nordo allegedly bribed his victims, falsified paperwork to give victims up to $20,000 from the Mayor’s Office Crime Reward Program, asking victims to refer other “homosexual inmates” to him, and used coercion, threats and his power as a police detective to force victims to obey him.
A spokesman for the police union said union officials had reviewed the charges and would not be representing Nordo, reported Philadelphia Metro.
“At this point we are not commenting beyond providing the presentment,” Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner said. “Our position is that he should be held on bail.”
But Krasner did slam the Philly DA’s office under his predecessors for not making information about Nordo public in the cases he was involved in.
“I’m always shocked when a prosecutor’s office lose track of its Brady obligation to provide information to the defense so that they have their clients’ constitutional obligations met,” said Krasner, referring to the Brady requirement that prosecutors turn over all exculpatory evidence to defense counsel. “Prosecutors should turn over the information they have even if that information means that the defense has more to work with. It’s called Brady, it’s in our U.S. Constitution, it should be done always and it should have been done in Philadelphia for decades.”
Details were scant in the heavily-redacted presentment. Krasner said additional allegations against Nordo were redacted to protect the privacy of the people involved. “One of our concerns in a case like this is to make sure that we protect the safety and privacy of individuals who have been victimized,” Krasner said. “When you have a situation where there are shocking allegations, sometimes it emboldens people who have also been victimized to come forward.”
Nordo was fired in 2017 for departmental violations that reportedly included “fraternizing” with people conducted to criminal incidents, not long after reports emerged that he had been giving payments to a witness in another criminal matter.
Philly police declined to comment on what internal actions were taken after Nordo was accused of the 2005 sexual incident.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in July the district attorney’s office had agreed not to challenge the dismissal of charges in at least one murder case where Nordo had been accused of having inappropriate contact with several witnesses. A second suspect who had pleaded guilty to charges in the same homicide was granted immediate parole instead of being sentenced to potential decades in prison.