PITTSBURGH (AP) – The fifth and final victim of a former city police officer in prison for extorting sexual favors from women filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the city and top public safety officials for not removing him from duty sooner.
Adam Skweres, 36, is serving 3 1/2 to eight years in prison after pleading guilty in March to charges including attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, coercion, bribery and other counts for encounters involving five women that date to 2008.
The 35-year-old woman who sued the city contends Skweres came to her home in uniform in February 2012 and offered “to help her incarcerated boyfriend in exchange for sex.” When she refused, Skweres gestured toward his duty pistol and eventually forced her to perform a sex act, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit contends that before the encounter, a psychological evaluation had found Skweres “unsuitable for police work” and that other women had complained he’d forced them into sex acts. It says his actions that night were “the direct result of the defendants’ failure to restrict or remove Skweres from police duties” despite the evaluation and earlier complaints.
The woman told the Associated Press that Skweres’ being an officer “just made the whole thing that much worse. You just think an officer is someone you can trust. It’s like a betrayal that’s beyond words.”
The AP is not identifying her because she was previously found to be a victim of sexual assault when Skweres was convicted. She filed the lawsuit under the pseudonym Jane Doe.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from the city, former police chief Nathan Harper, former Assistant Chief of Operations William Bochter and public safety director Michael Huss.
The city solicitor couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
It is the third federal lawsuit filed against the city and police officials by one of Skweres’ criminal victims. One was dismissed in December because it involved conduct in 2008, which was beyond the two-year statute of limitations.
That victim’s attorneys argued that the time limit shouldn’t have begun until the allegations became public in February 2012 when the plaintiff in the current lawsuit contacted the city. Officials there prompted her to contact the FBI and, within days, Pittsburgh police arrested Skweres on charges he victimized three women who complained previously. Police soon after added charges pertaining to the Jane Doe plaintiff and another woman who came forward once the other incidents were publicized.
“Her biggest concern is to make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” said Timothy O’Brien, the woman’s lawyer. “Knowing now that the city and its officials were aware he was doing these kinds of things, and that they allowed these kinds of things to happen, is inexcusable.”
O’Brien said the International Association of Chiefs of Police has developed a model policy for handling such complaints against officers, and said the city didn’t abide by it.
“Delay is the last thing that should happen in these kinds of cases,” O’Brien said. “The city of Pittsburgh, whatever they were doing, it wasn’t moving quickly in resolving these complaints.”