Nc. (CBS) — A Fayetteville, North Carolina, police officer was fired after sending inappropriate messages to a sexual assault victim whose case he had worked on, according to his termination letter. The victim, Erin Scanlon, told CBS News that having him removed from the department felt like she had gotten some “justice.”
Scanlon said Paul Matrafailo, who had been the detective when she reported a sexual assault in 2016, contacted her via Instagram in March. She said since she didn’t have his contact information, she responded, “sorry, do I know you?” She said he answered, “it’s Paul Matrafailo. Did you forget me already?”
She shared some of the other messages he sent with CBS Raleigh affiliate WNCN.
Scanlon said he sent her a number of messages but she had stopped responding. When she brought it up to her victims’ advocate, they reported it to the Fayetteville Police Department.
According to the termination letter, the department said they received a complaint on March 5, 2019 that Matrafailo had contacted a sexual assault victim via Instagram. He then allegedly contacted the victim a second time.
Matrafailo, who had worked for the police department since 2009, had other reprimands mentioned in the termination letter, including one for sending “inappropriate” messages to another department. The Fayetteville Police Department issued a dismissal letter on May 7.
The Fayetteville Police Department said in a statement that the termination letter serves as their comment on the incident.
“This is someone we put all of our trust into,” Scanlon said. “It was so disappointing – even with an authority figure who is supposed to take me seriously, has to sexualize me when we met the way that we did,” she said.
Victim advocate Deanne Gerdes with the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County told WNCN she’s never dealt with something like this before.
“It was hard for me to wrap my head around that this was actually happening to one of our victims with one of the detectives we worked with daily,” Gerdes told WNCN. “We were one big team, so if it’s hard for me. I can’t imagine for victims to have to go through being re-victimized by their detective. It’s disgusting.”
Scanlon said that after Matrafailo was dismissed, the Rape Crisis Center of Cumberland County contacted her and said another woman had come forward and said Matrafailo had contacted her. According to Scanlon, the Rape Crisis Center said the other woman was “really struggling and she wanted someone to talk to who is going through the same thing.”
Scanlon said she hoped that by telling her story, other people who have dealt with something similar can come forward.
“It’s nice to feel like you’re finally being heard,” she said.