Lawsuit Pending Against Former W-B Cop
WILKES-BARRE — A city law firm on Thursday filed a legal notice of an impending civil-rights lawsuit against the City of Wilkes-Barre and former community policing officer Robert Collins.
Collins, 53, of Wright Twp., was charged last month with sexually assaulting four women while on duty. He retired from the force last week.
In a one-page notice filed in court Thursday, the Dyller Law Firm initiated a lawsuit, identifying the plaintiffs as “J. Doe, H. Doe, D. Doe and L. Doe.” The filing indicates the lawsuit will relate to civil-rights violations, but does not contain specific allegations.
Attorney Theron J. Solomon 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 charged last month.
“We believe that the city was well aware of this problem, and they really failed these girls,” Solomon said. “It was widely known that he was doing this, and obviously nothing was done about it.”
Filing the notice Thursday allows the firm to stop the clock on the statute of limitations and to gather discovery documents that will aid in the case, he said.
City Administrator Rick Gazenski declined comment as per city policy regarding pending litigation.
Police Chief Joseph Coffay said after a city council meeting Thursday that the city’s internal investigation into Collins was concluded last week just before he retired.
Asked whether the city received any complaints about Collins from as far back as 2014 and prior to his arrest, Coffay declined comment, calling the issue a personnel matter.
Solomon also said the firm is currently representing the four women but that there are “more to come.” He declined to provide a specific number of other potential victims, but said the women’s stories have been “eerily similar.”
“These women’s stories are so close in how it went down, exactly what he did, what he said,” Solomon said. “The crazy part is these women range in age and ethnicity, and even where they lived. There’s just no way these women could have ever known each other.”
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 his arraignment, Collins had told the judge he planned on “fighting these charges vigorously.”
STEVE MOCARSKY, staff writer, contributed to this report.
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