Sex assault trial of ex-Philadelphia police detective opens

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Prosecution and defense are presenting jurors with dueling portraits of a former Philadelphia police detective accused of having sexually assaulted male suspects and witnesses over his long career.

Assistant District Attorney Brian Collins said in his opening statement Monday that the case against 55-year-old Philip Nordo was about “power and corruption,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Nordo, he said, was a detective who “had all the power to do what he wanted.”

Defense attorney Michael van der Veen, however, called his client a dedicated officer who won awards and praise from superiors. He dismissed those accusing Nordo of wrongdoing as “criminals, and liars, and thieves” whose accounts were inconsistent and lacked corroborating evidence.

Prosecutors last week dropped more than half of the charges originally filed, citing an inability to locate one of his accusers. Nordo has denied wrongdoing and last week rejected an offer to plead guilty to four charges, the newspaper reported.

The 2019 grand jury presentment accused Philip Nordo of rape, sexual assault, intimidation and the theft of city funds. The investigation led to a review of his police work and contributed to the reversal of several homicide convictions, including one involving a special needs athlete killed over his headphones.

Authorities alleged in the grand jury report that Nordo used his position to intimidate and groom male suspects and witnesses into sexual acts. The report said the meetings took place in hotel rooms, interview rooms and police vehicles, sometimes after Nordo displayed his firearm. The theft charge involves allegations that Nordo filed false claims for $20,000 in city reward money and other funds to give to victims.