Sex abuse accusations detailed - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Sex abuse accusations detailed

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Posted: Saturday, January 8, 2005 6:22 am | Updated: 9:45 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

January 8, 2005

The sexual abuse described by the three women was nearly identical.

The police officer groped under their bras, asked about their underwear and touched two of the women inside their pants, they said.

Their reactions were also similar — fear, disbelief and a sense that they had been grossly violated by an officer of the law.

Police reports released Friday shed light on the criminal investigation into Mesa officer Matthew E. Driver, 32, of Apache Junction, who was indicted on six counts of sexual abuse and arrested on Dec. 16.

Driver, who has been suspended with pay since July 5, posted $27,000 cash bond Monday and put under house arrest, said Mesa police Sgt. Chuck Trapani.

Two women came forward with similar allegations in July, and police discovered a third teenage woman once they started to dig into his previous contacts with women while he was on duty, police said.

The reports indicate the sexual abuse incidents were under the ruse that Driver was searching for weapons or drugs, but all three women said they already had been searched.

The first woman reported abuse on July 5, when she said Driver made an unreported stop on the way to book her into jail on a warrant arrest.

He told her to unbutton her pants so he could see down them and made a quick "swoop" with his hand, the report states. The 33-year-old woman, who said she started crying, said he also felt underneath her bra.

A 23-year-old woman told investigators that Driver stopped her for speeding and DUI on June 19, and she said he sexually abused her when he stopped the car at a dark dead-end street as he gave her a ride home and told her he needed to search her again.

"Seriously, my heart dropped," she told investigators. "I thought I was dead. I seriously didn’t know what he was going to do."

She said he lifted up her shirt and bra, exposing her breasts, and then groped her. He also made her lift up her skirt, she said.

Driver then allowed her to drive home after he had said she couldn’t because she had been drinking, the woman reported.

She said he told her he was letting her off easy for not giving her a DUI, and then he handed her a business card, saying he would appreciate a letter to the city letting them know what a good job he did.

A third woman, who was 17 at the time, said Driver contacted her at a park where she was talking with her boyfriend.

She said she spent about three hours in the back of his patrol car alone with him before he told her he needed to search her a second time.

She told investigators she was "frozen with fear," and that Driver was nervous and acting "weird."

In interviews with detectives, Driver adamantly denied the first woman’s allegations, saying he never stopped to search her.

He said he was "scared to death to search women. But yet if you don’t have a female, I don’t want them in my car unless we do some kind of search. At no time did I do a search on my own with her," he told the detective.

Police officials are also conducting an internal affairs investigation into whether Driver violated other department policies.

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