Former Fayetteville police detective accused of sending inappropriate messages to rape victims arrested

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020
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Former Fayetteville detective accused of inappropriate messages charged

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Fayetteville police detective who was fired last year after facing accusations of sending inappropriate messages via social media to rape victims whose cases he worked is now facing charges.

According to an arrest warrant, former detective Paul G. Matrafailo III accessed a government computer without authorization.

He was arrested on Monday.

The warrant said it happened on May 20, 2019, which was just days after Fayetteville Police Department handed him a letter of dismissal.

Investigators said that 13 days after being fired, he used his login information to access the P2P database to search for information about the victims he investigated. Officials said that due to a clerical error, his username and password were not disabled.

Officer Matrafailo had been a part of FPD since July 27, 2009.

On March 5 of last year, the department received a complaint that Matrafailo had contacted a sexual assault victim via Instagram. The dismissal letter said the officer began a conversation with the woman that she felt was inappropriate, even allegedly making another attempt on March 9.

According to the letter, Matrafailo was the detective for the woman's sexual assault case in September 2016. The woman reported that she never provided the detective with her social media account information.

The Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County said three women, including the one mentioned in the letter, were subject to Matrafailo's inappropriate behavior.

One of those women, Erin Scanlon, said she made sure to keep her responses short, but Matrafailo continued to message her.

"Friendly, would just be like 'oh, I'm going to go to the gym, I'm going to work out,' yadda, yadda," said Scanlon.

The moment the former detective commented on an Amazon wish list that she had on her Instagram profile, which included lingerie, Scanlon said she knew a line was being crossed.

"I want to take you out, I care for you and then that's when I was finally like - this isn't ok," Scanlon said. "...That's just an abuse of power he thought he had."

She went to the police department and filed an official complaint. Scanlon later learned that other victims had come forward.

FPD served Matrafailo a Notice of Administrative Investigation on March 15; he appealed and a hearing was conducted by Chief Gina Hawkins on May 2.

After reviewing testimony and other pieces of evidence, Chief Hawkins terminated Matrafailo five days later.

"It's just disgusting thinking that he was thinking about girls, his rape victims in that way, during work, while he was investigating their rapes," said Scanlon.