W-B Cop Accused Of On-duty Rapes
WILKES-BARRE — State police criminal investigators descended on the Wilkes-Barre Police Department on Tuesday afternoon to arrest a veteran officer on allegations he sexually assaulted four women while on duty.
A judge on Tuesday night ordered Robert Collins jailed in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility, setting bail at $125,000 cash for the 22 counts of charges.
Prosecutors allege Collins, 53, of Wright Twp., targeted women he encountered on duty and then demanded sex in exchange for avoiding arrest.
“This case is reprehensible — the perpetrator is a public official, someone who the community entrusted to protect them,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement announcing the charges. “My office will prosecute sexual assault offenders to the fullest extent of the law, no matter who they are. As attorney general, I will not allow any person in power to abuse their position — without fear or favor.”
At his arraignment Tuesday night, Collins vowed to contest the allegations.
“I plan on answering these charges, fighting these charges vigorously,” Collins told on-duty Magisterial District Judge David Barilla in a plea to remain free on bail.
Collins told the judge he voluntarily took a lie detector test and passed. He said he was a lifelong area resident with a wife and daughter at home.
Barilla said he was setting bail at $125,000 cash due to the seriousness of the charges and ordered Collins jailed in the county prison.
Collins’ preliminary hearing was set for Feb. 7 at 9:30 a.m. at Luzerne County Central Court.
A Wilkes-Barre police officer for 12 years, Collins most recently served as the city’s community policing officer. He told Barilla he was confronted by investigators at the city police station following the completion of his shift on Tuesday.
Collins is charged with 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.
Charges were filed by the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations. The FBI in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre police are assisting. State police asked anyone with additional information to contact state police at Wyoming at 570-697-2000.
Wilkes-Barre police Chief Joseph Coffay said Collins has been suspended.
“Collins will be suspended with pay until an internal investigation is completed once we have the information from the state,” Coffay said.
Asked for his reaction to Collin’s arrest and the charges, Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George said it would be “inappropriate for me to comment on an ongoing investigation with an outside agency.”
He reiterated Coffay’s remarks that the city will conduct an internal investigation after receiving information from state authorities. George also noted that the incidents allegedly occurred prior to his taking office as mayor in 2016.
According to the criminal complaint, four women ranging in age from 25 to 36 came forward and told the investigators that Collins sexually assaulted them between August 2013 and December 2014.
The first woman reported that she had been robbed by several people in the area of the Sherman Hills Apartments in 2012. Afterward, she encountered Collins, who was in a marked patrol car.
Collins offered her a ride home and then informed her she had to perform oral sex on him in exchange, according to the complaint. The woman refused and went into her apartment.
A few weeks later when she called the police about a custody dispute, Collins showed up and offered to put the baby’s father in jail if she provided oral sex, the charges allege. The woman refused once more.
But then in August 2013, she was in a vehicle that Collins pulled over, police say. Collins patted her down and found a needle, and drove her in his police car to a secluded spot, according to the complaint.
Again, Collins requested oral sex, and that time the woman agreed because she was on probation and did not want to get arrested, the charges allege.
Another woman told investigators that in December of 2013 or 2014, Collins had stopped her and patted her down as she walked along Carey Avenue. Collins found cocaine and cash on her, and then drove to a secluded area, police said.
“What do you want to do?” the woman quoted Collins as asking.
The woman then questioned whether he was seeking a sexual favor, and Collins responded by lifting his utility belt and exposing himself, according to the complaint.
The woman performed oral sex on Collins, who then instructed her to “keep your mouth shut or it will (expletive) you in the long run,” according to the charges. Collins then refused to give the woman a ride back to where she had been, leaving her stranded at the Murray Complex, police said.
The next case involved another woman who was arrested for allegedly shoplifting from the Rite Aid in Wilkes-Barre in May 2014. Collins offered to give her a ride home, which the woman reported she felt pressured into accepting.
The woman told police that Collins began groping her leg and that he locked the doors when she tried to get out. Collins fondled the woman’s genitals and requested oral sex, but she refused, police said.
Collins then masturbated in the police car while the woman was crying, closing her eyes and staring straight ahead, according to the complaint.
Afterward, Collins asked if he should pay the woman, and she “went off” on him, police said. Collins then directed the woman not to tell anyone, saying he knew her family and where she lived, according to the complaint.
The final case involved a woman who was involved in a traffic stop in the area of the Sherman Hills Apartments in the summer of 2014.
The woman reported that as Collins searched her, he began rubbing and squeezing her in a “sexual way.” At one point while searching her bra area, Collins remarked that he “likes what he feels,” according to the complaint.
After finding several bundles of heroin on the woman, Collins informed her that she would have to get into his police car to get out of trouble, the complaint says. The woman complied and Collins took her to a parking lot behind the apartment complex, where he directed her to perform oral sex on him, the charges allege.
Afterward, Collins told the woman she was “good to go” and allowed her to leave, police said.
A records check revealed that in each of the four cases, Collins had not filed any charges against the women, according to the complaint.
Collins’ arrest comes on the heels of another area cop being arrested on charges alleging he pressured women into sex while on duty.
Part-time Ashley police officer Mark Icker, 29, of Dickson City, is awaiting trial on charges alleging he pressured two women into performing oral sex on him to avoid arrest, as well as pulling down a third woman’s shirt and groping her after stopping her for driving under the influence. Icker is suspended from departments in Ashley, Sugar Notch and Jessup.
STEVE MOCARSKY, staff writer, contributed to this report
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