SYCAMORE – A judge declined to dismiss a rape charge against a former Northern Illinois University police officer Friday, but jurors are going to hear how police initially withheld important information.
Judge Robbin Stuckert ruled last week that NIU police intentionally withheld witness statements favorable to Andrew Rifkin, a former NIU police officer accused of raping a college student off campus. Rifkin’s attorney asked Stuckert to dismiss the sexual assault charge against the 24-year-old Northbrook man.
State's Attorney Clay Campell said Monday that he had requested state police investigate NIU Police Chief Don Grady and the department over the mishandled evidence. NIU President John Peters asked state police to review and help with all of NIU police’s pending investigations as state police saw fit.
By Thursday afternoon, state police had received Peters' request but had not received Campbell's, Illinois State Police spokesman Monique Bond said.
Rifkin’s case began Oct. 28, 2011, when a female NIU student told police Rifkin had raped her two weeks earlier on Oct. 14. Rifkin was fired the same day. University police have said NIU officers must adhere to a strict no-fraternization policy with students, faculty and staff.
On Nov. 3, 2011, two other NIU students went to the NIU police station, where they gave signed, written statements to NIU police, in which they said the victim in the case had discussed her ongoing consensual relationship with Rifkin. However, they told police they were worried about going to court.
One of the NIU students said the investigating officer told her she could think about whether she wanted her statement to go to prosecutors, court records show. The officer also told her she would have to hire an attorney and the process would be complicated, court records show.
Court records also indicate two NIU police officers told the victim not to discuss the case with anyone but police, which Rifkin’s attorney asserted is a violation of Rifkin’s due process rights.
The two witnesses who gave written statements to police also spoke with Grady at the NIU police station, according to court documents. Grady testified last week that he learned only recently that no report was made to prosecutors about the statements. Grady said last week that he did not suspend or fire the officers involved.
“I did talk to them,” Grady said in court. “Some people think that might be as stern as a termination.”