City may settle police sex lawsuit
Officers accused of assault while they were on duty.
By: Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune: May 3rd, 2015
The city is poised to pay $415,000 to a woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by two then-Chicago police officers after they bought her liquor and drove her back to her Rogers Park apartment to play strip poker while on duty.
The proposed settlement in a federal lawsuit filed by the woman, identified only as Jane Doe, is scheduled to be discussed at Tuesday’s monthly Finance Committee meeting at City Hall, according to an agenda for the meeting posted online Friday. If approved, the settlement would go before the full City Council for a vote Wednesday.
The officers, Paul Clavijo and Juan Vasquez, were indicted in 2011 on 26 counts of criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual abuse and official misconduct, alleging some of the most egregious conduct for on-duty police officers in recent memory.
The officers’ misconduct drew outrage from officials at the time of the incident. Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez told reporters that the two had “essentially destroyed” their oath of office, while then-interim Chicago police Superintendent Terry Hillard called the allegations “heinous criminal activity” that offended him as a father.
But in January 2014, Clavijo and Vasquez quietly pleaded guilty to one felony county of official misconduct in a deal that alleged no sexual wrongdoing on their part and kept them from serving any time in prison.
A spokeswoman for the state’s attorney told the Tribune at the time that the plea agreement was “the best possible outcome” in the case “based on the circumstances” and had won the support of the victim, who no longer lives in the Chicago area.
Both officers were given two years of probation by Judge Lawrence Flood. They had resigned shortly after the charges came down.
After the allegations became public in March 2011, another woman came forward and alleged that Clavijo had sexually assaulted her in her Ravenswood apartment almost three weeks earlier. The 26-year-old woman alleged that Clavijo and Vasquez picked her up while she waited for a bus at Clark Street and Sheffield Avenue.
Clavijo was charged with sexual assault in that incident, but it was dropped as a result of his guilty plea in the other case. A federal lawsuit against both officers in that incident is still pending, records show.
According to court records in the Jane Doe case, the two officers were working the Town Hall District midnight shift in a marked Chevrolet Tahoe on March 30, 2011, when they saw a 22-year-old woman crying near the CTA’s Addison Red Line station in Wrigleyville.
The officers offered to give the highly intoxicated woman a ride to her apartment — located outside their district — and invited her into the front seat, where she sat on Clavijo’s lap, the records show. The officers then stopped at a liquor store, where Vasquez went inside to buy vodka while Clavijo allegedly sexually assaulted the woman, prosecutors said.
At the woman’s apartment, the three played strip poker, and the woman was allegedly sexually assaulted again. One of the cops allegedly asked, “Would you like to be tag-teamed by two police officers?” according to records.
The woman began to scream and pound on the walls, then ran out into the hall of her apartment building, where she pounded on neighbors’ doors. She told one neighbor “the cops raped me,” the records show.
Police found Vasquez’s cellphone and other police items — including navy blue CPD garb — in the woman’s apartment, according to records.
In a statement submitted to the court, the woman said the ordeal changed her life. She had once been outgoing, but after the alleged assault, she stayed home, cried frequently and couldn’t sleep at night.
“I hate the fact that these individuals took advantage of their badges,” she wrote. “They are supposed to be the most respected people on the streets, and they are criminals. I’m never going to feel truly safe again.”
Vasquez’s lawyer, Daniel Herbert, told the Tribune in 2014 that whatever happened in the woman’s apartment that night was a “consensual incident that wasn’t a criminal sexual assault.”