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June 02, 2022

Ex-Philly homicide detective found guilty of sexually assaulting witnesses

Three victims of Philip Nordo testified at the trial, and DA Larry Krasner said there are likely more. Nordo's investigations have been linked to at least five wrongful convictions

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Philly Cop Rape Bill Oxford/Unsplash

Philip Nordo, a former Philly homicide detective, was found guilty Wednesday, June 1, of rape, sexual assault and other offenses for his conduct with witnesses and suspects involved in his investigations. The case against the cop has led prosecutors to review 62 homicide convictions which Nordo had been involved in investigating, the Philadelphia District Attorney's office said.

Former Philadelphia homicide detective Philip Nordo was found guilty on Wednesday of rape, sexual assault, corruption and other offenses for his conduct with witnesses and suspects involved in his investigations.

The case against the 20-year veteran of the department has led prosecutors to review 62 homicide convictions in which Nordo had been involved, the Philadelphia District Attorney's office said.

Nordo, 56, was fired in 2017. The first charges against him were filed in 2019, and additional charges came in 2021. Among the witnesses in his 2 1/2-week trial, three men testified that they been in contact with Nordo as part of homicide cases. They described encounters with the defendant that ranged from groping to unwanted sex, the Inquirer reported.

After the trial, District Attorney Larry Krasner said it's likely Nordo had more than three victims and that he's partly responsible for several wrongful convictions. Krasner called Nordo's actions "jaw-dropping and deeply shameful."

"Mr. Nordo is now being held accountable for the many disturbing ways in which he abused his oath and his badge to hurt and threaten vulnerable young men," Krasner said. "His actions undoubtedly destroyed trust between members of the public and law enforcement."

According to the DA's office, to date, five people convicted of homicides in cases Nordo investigated have been exonerated, two others have had their sentences reduced and one defendant has been granted a retrial. Prosecutors are reviewing about 25 more cases.

One of the vacated convictions involved the investigation into the death of Christian Massey, the Marple Newtown High School student, who was killed while being robbed for his Beats headphones in Overbrook in 2013.

Arkel Garcia was convicted of the homicide in 2015, but there were no witnesses, no recovered murder weapon and no fingerprint or DNA evidence linking him to the crime. The prosecution's main evidence was Nordo's claim that Garcia had confessed to him. But the video of the alleged confession contradicted some of the detective's key claims, and the recording was of such poor-quality that Garcia's face couldn't be made out in the footage.

Massey's death had gained national attention because of how popular the headphones were at the time and because of Massey's personal story.

He was a West Philly native, who at age 12, with his mother was battling substance abuse problems, was sent to live at a facility for children with intellectual disabilities run by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Massey, who was 6-foot-2 and more then 300 pounds, went on to be a beloved classmate at Marple Newtown High School where he played basketball, football and lacrosse before graduating in 2011.

Garcia's conviction was thrown out in 2019 due to Nordo's pattern of misconduct.

The jury at Nordo trial also found the ex-cop guilty of stealing $20,000 in reward money, some of which had been established as a reward following the killing of Philadelphia Police Officer Moses Walker in 2012. Nordo gave the money to one of his victims by falsely claiming the man had helped solve the crime.

Krasner said the Phialdelphia District Attorney's Office had evidence of Nordo's misconduct as early as 2005 and chose not to act on it.

Nordo's sexual assaults spanned at least 10 years. He was known to groom his victims over the course of active investigations. The rapes and assaults occurred in hotel rooms, interview rooms and police vehicles. Nordo would sometimes brandish his firearm during these incidents and used his authority to bully his victims into silence, NBC10 reported.

Nordo joined the the police department in 1997 and was promoted to detective in 2002. He was assigned to the homicide unit in 2009.

The jury found him guilty of rape, sexual assault, indecent assault, official oppression, stalking and related charges. The judge ordered that he remains in custody until his sentencing on Aug 5.