CHICAGO, Illinois – In the spring of 2016, a Chicago police officer faces dismissal for having sex with a woman just hours after responding to an burglary at her residence.
According to a report by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the woman came forward years later while struggling with mental health concerns and suicidal thoughts.
She said Officer Daniel Otero returned to her studio apartment, shared alcoholic beverages with her, and then sexually attacked her, according to a report produced by COPA in May and made public last week.
COPA concluded there was insufficient evidence to substantiate many of her complaints, including that she was raped and naked without her consent.
The police oversight organization noted that woman and Officer Otero provided contradictory descriptions of the incident, with the officer claiming that she was a “active participant.”
“Although COPA recognizes that [the woman’s] delayed outcry and lack of medical attention is not an uncommon response to a sexual attack, the absence of verification is an impediment to sustaining the charges in this case,” agency officials stated in the report.
The sole substantiated complaint concerned Otero’s “improper sexual contact” with the woman. COPA and Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown agreed that he should be terminated.
COPA stated that police postponed a separate investigation because they did not believe the case “matched the criteria for a criminal probe.”
Laura Morask, Otero’s attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Confused, incredulous, and humiliated”
COPA reports that early on April 3, 2016, Otero and another officer responded to a report of a “Peeping Tom” and discovered that the woman had been awakened by a man holding a cellphone and staring at her. She went to a neighbor’s house and called the police to report that her cell phone, wallet, and purse had been stolen after she had left a door unsecured.
In a joint interview with COPA and police investigators on January 28, 2019, the woman stated that Otero offered to return to assist with apartment maintenance. She stated that he requested her email address after her phone was stolen.
She stated that Otero sent an email a few hours later and subsequently visited. She claimed that Otero displayed his revolver while they drank a couple drinks. She told detectives she was already feeling drunk when he “directed” her to the bed. She said he had sexual relations with her without her consent.
The woman reported feeling “confused, in disbelief, and ashamed,” but it was not until early January 2019 that she “realized she had been sexually attacked.”
She disclosed to her parents that she suffered a “mental collapse” and was hospitalized. COPA stated that she was eventually sent to a psychiatric facility due to “suicidal ideation.”
‘Undermines public confidence’
According to COPA, Otero told a different tale, saying that she told him to contact her after work. According to him, a “casual talk” in her residence led to their having sexual relations.
He remembered thinking, “She may be his girlfriend.” Otero disputed several crucial details of her account, including the fact that they were drinking and that he was armed.
COPA reprimanded Otero for his interaction with a “vulnerable” crime victim, but rejecting the claim of sexual assault. According to agency management, his behavior “displayed a lack of judgment and self-control and was in stark contrast to CPD’s stated mission and aims.”
They wrote that “his acts had the potential to harm an ongoing criminal investigation.” “Such a judgment by a member of the Chicago Police Department destroys public faith in the department and discredits it.”
In a letter dated August 31 to the Chicago Police Board, Police Superintendent David Brown concurred with COPA’s decision to terminate Otero. A status hearing is scheduled for October 26 before the board.