A Pennsylvania police officer who was already facing criminal charges of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old is now accused of raping two additional women, including one while handcuffed.
All three females say Connellsville police officer Ryan Reese arrested them on drug charges, using his position as Fayette County Drug Task Force supervisor to coerce them into sex.
Reese, 43, resigned in December 2014 under mysterious circumstances, and was arrested in April 2015 for “accepting sexual favors” from the teenager, whom he had turned into a confidential informant after arresting her and her boyfriend for marijuana in 2013.
He not only claimed he did not know her age, but that she pressured him into having sex.
“He said that she relentlessly pressured him into having sexual intercourse, and he eventually gave in,” the grand jury said last year.
The newly surfaced incidents took place between 2011 and 2012.
In one of the cases, a victim alleged that Reese coerced her into having sex with him lest she be jailed. The woman complied because she was afraid to go to jail and Reese told her it would help her with her criminal charges.
In the other, Reese raped a Connellsville woman in her home after he handcuffed her and then took her to a county jail.
But once she got to the state prison, she informed a prison doctor about the assault, according to the arrest indictment. Reese allegedly told her after the assault not to say anything. And if she did, no one would believe her because she was “just a junkie”.
Both women claimed they were coerced into the assaults out of fear and said they thought Reese would prosecute them more harshly if they didn’t comply.
For the 2011 case, Reese was charged with rape, official oppression and three counts each of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault and indecent assault.
For the case that allegedly occurred in 2012, Reese was charged with rape, sexual assault, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, official oppression and indecent assault.
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Stafani Lucas said in response to the allegations,
“No one is above the law, by any means. For someone to do the things that he is accused of doing, that’s definitely above and beyond. We are definitely held to a higher standard. Obviously, if there are other victims out there, we do want to encourage people to not be afraid to come forward.”
Even after he already faced charges for raping the 16-year-old girl after promising to help her with her criminal charges, Reese’s bond was set at only $25,000.
Even more alarming, and perhaps the benefit of “blue privilege”, is that he was released on a recognizance bond in Westmoreland County, after already facing charges of raping the 16-year-old, where he isn’t required to post any bond, as long as he gives his word that he’ll show up to court on the dates he is scheduled to appear.
In that case, prosecutors allege that Reese raped the 16-year-old girl in front of her boyfriend in exchange for help with her case on a drug charge. After those allegations were made is when investigators learned about the other two victims.
According to Herald-Standard, in 2012 Reese was suspended from the Fayette County Drug Task Force because he admittedly had sex with an informant who worked in prostitution stings.
Pennsylvania Trooper Stefani Lucas also said that Reese would prey on women by telling them they could become informants, but would later negotiate sex in exchange for helping them with their charges.
Lucas said, “He was basically telling females they could get out of charges, first by being informants, then move on instead to I want to perform sexual acts with you.”
Reese’s defense attorney, Emily Smarto, said her client denies the charges.
Reese’s predatory behavior by people in positions of authority is nothing new.
In December of 2015, we reported about Daniel Holtzclaw who had a similar mode of operation. He targeted women who he thought weren’t credible enough to give believable testimony in court. His victims were all black and mostly women with histories of drug use and prostitution.
In that case, Oklahoma prosecutors took criticism for choosing an all-white jury. However, the jury found Holtzclaw guilty on 16 of 32 charges. And he was sentenced to life in prison.
In both cases, Holtzclaw and Reese abused their positions of authority, and preyed on women who they thought would be easy to discredit in court if it came down to that.
In the case of Daniel Holtzclaw, the jury didn’t buy his defense and threw the book at him. In the case of Reese, the verdict has yet to be seen. But if the Holtzclaw case is any indication of how his case will turn out, he will not and should not ever see the light of day for the remainder of his life.
The state attorney general’s office is prosecuting the case against Reese.
A preliminary hearing regarding his new charges is set for March 14th, 2016.