Officer Accused Of Rape Appears In Court
WILKES-BARRE — Four women took the witness stand Thursday morning and publicly accused former Wilkes-Barre community policing officer Robert Collins of pressuring them for sex while on duty.
The women all offered similar accounts — Collins picked them up for minor infractions and threatened to put them in jail if they didn’t perform oral sex. Three of them said they complied.
“I closed my eyes,” one of the women recalled. “I was crying and I performed oral sex on him.”
Collins, 53, of Wright Twp., was charged in January with charges including rape and official oppression. He retired from the force in February.
During Thursday’s preliminary hearing, three of the women said Collins pressured them after finding them in possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia, while the fourth said she was pressured after being caught shoplifting at a drug store.
That woman described Collins driving her to a parking lot, saying he wanted to check on something.
“He put his hand on my thigh and he, like, started touching my leg and stuff,” said the woman, who testified that she refused to perform oral sex.
She went on to describe Collins masturbating while she sat next to him in the police car, horrified.
“I was cursing. I was crying. That’s when he said, ‘What, you don’t like it?’” the woman said, adding when Collins had finished he asked if he should pay her. “I went off, basically.”
Another woman testified that Collins ordered her out of a vehicle being driven by “my drug dealer” and found a needle hidden in her bra. Collins let the driver and his brother leave, then took the woman to a secluded spot and demanded oral sex, she said.
When it was over, Collins threatened her to keep quiet, she said.
“He said if I told anybody that he would file the charges and I would go to jail,” the woman said.
The final woman said Collins caught her with cocaine in her purse while she was working as a prostitute along Carey Avenue. She said she was concerned she had a warrant for her arrest and that Collins would charge her for the drugs, so she agreed to perform oral sex.
“He said, ‘What can we do to take care of these charges?’” the woman said. “Because of my addiction, I didn’t want to go to jail.”
Collins is facing three counts of rape, three counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, four counts of witness intimidation, one count of aggravated indecent assault, two counts of indecent assault, one count of false imprisonment, four counts of official oppression and four counts of obstructing justice.
At the end of the hearing, defense attorney Evan T. L. Hughes argued for dismissal of most of those charges, arguing there had been no testimony that Collins had intimidated or falsely imprisoned anyone.
The attorney noted none of the victims claimed to have been physically forced into sex — instead they agreed to perform oral sex in exchange for getting out of trouble.
“This is not rape — forcible compulsion,” Hughes said.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Bernard Anderson countered the law does not require the use of physical force to establish compulsion —psychological force can be used as well.
“He used the threat ... ‘Give me sex or you’re going to jail,’” Anderson said. “I think it was pretty clear from the witnesses that none of them wanted to do what they had to go through.”
Magisterial District Judge Joseph Zola did not immediately rule on whether to forward the charges against Collins to the Court of Common Pleas for prosecution. He said he would issue a ruling Friday morning.
Collins, who is free after posting $125,000 bail through a bondsman, declined to comment as he left court.
The alleged victims, through the Dyller Law Firm, filed notice last month of an impending civil-rights lawsuit against Collins and the City of Wilkes-Barre. Attorney Theron J. Solomon has said the firm is targeting the city because some of the complaints date to 2014 but Collins was never taken off the streets until he was arrested.
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