D.A. to review accusations against officer

Posted: April 27, 2014

PHILADELPHIA The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office said Friday that it would review sexual-abuse allegations against a narcotics officer accused of assaulting women during drug raids.

The officer, Thomas Tolstoy, was one of four officers at the center of a 2009 Philadelphia Daily News series on police misdeeds titled "Tainted Justice." The series detailed how three women said Tolstoy sexually assaulted them.

Fraternal Order of Police lodge head John McNesby, who has been speaking on behalf of the officers, said he was looking forward to defending Tolstoy.

"We welcome them to look at it and clear him again," McNesby said.

The district attorney's action came after The Inquirer reported Thursday that - after a years-long investigation - federal authorities had declined to press charges against Tolstoy and three other officers. The four are to return to street duty.

The federal investigation revolved around allegations in the Daily News that the officers falsified warrants and stole from bodega owners during raids.

The three sexual-assault allegations against Tolstoy were investigated separately, first by the Police Department's Internal Affairs Unit, which found that two of the claims did not have sufficient evidence.

"They did not see anything there that could be supported enough to submit a review for charges," Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said Friday. Those cases were not submitted to federal authorities or the District Attorney's Office.

"If we don't have physical evidence, then it's very difficult to go forward with charges," Ramsey said.

Ramsey said that a federal grand jury investigated one sexual abuse allegation against Tolstoy, but authorities did not bring charges after DNA evidence submitted to a grand jury did not match Tolstoy.

In the other two allegations, Ramsey said, Internal Affairs investigators did not find sufficient evidence to continue the probe. Those cases were not submitted to federal authorities.

Dagma Rodriguez, who told the Daily News that Tolstoy had groped her breasts, said Friday night that the news of the district attorney's decision to review the cases brought up painful memories.

"I get devastated saying what happened to me," she said.

She was interviewed by Internal Affairs investigators directly after her alleged encounter with Tolstoy, she said. She was not contacted by investigators afterward.

First Assistant District Attorney Edward McCann said Friday that his office had decided to look at the two additional cases after news that Tolstoy and the other officers would return to street work.

"People are saying that the D.A.'s Office doesn't believe sexual-abuse victims, or somehow lets sexual-abuse victims down," he said. "That's not a fair characterization of what happened.

"We've been criticized for making a determination on those cases when we never looked at them," McCann said. "We just want to make a determination on these allegations like we did the other one."


awhelan@philly.com

215-854-2961

@aubreyjwhelan

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