A former Philadelphia Police detective pleaded not guilty at an arraignment on Tuesday to charges of allegedly using his position to sexually groom and rape male suspects and witnesses for more than a decade.
According to a grand jury report, former homicide detective Philip Nordo warned the victims that if they came forward to report the assaults, authorities would not believe them because “he was a detective and they were not.”
The report, released on Tuesday, said “Nordo implied that coming forward would cause serious problems for them.”
In the 38-page, heavily redacted report, Nordo is accused of multiple counts of police misconduct, including threatening, manipulating, and intimidating victims; sexual assault; rape; stalking and more.
Nordo, who was fired from the Police Department in 2017 after two decades in uniform, also allegedly diverted up to $20,000 in funds from the Mayor’s Office’s Crime Reward Program to individuals he coerced to provide false information.
Nordo was arrested around 5 a.m. Tuesday.
At a preliminary arraignment at the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice before Supervising Judge Robert P. Coleman Tuesday afternoon, Assistant District Attorney Brian Collins said a search of Nordo's Philadelphia home earlier that day revealed documents and files related to individuals involved in the case, as well as weapons.
Nordo, who participated in the arraignment via video conference, could be seen only from the chest up. He wore a red shirt.
Nordo pleaded not guilty.
His attorney, Michael van der Veen, said authorities had been building a case against Nordo long before they filed charges.
"There are a lot of political forces involved in this case, going back from the old district attorney's office the fraternal order of police to all kinds of interests throughout the city," van der Veen said.
Nordo was held without bail. Collins said Nordo was being held in protective custody and might be transferred to jail outside Philadelphia while he awaits his next court proceeding.
Ben Waxman, a spokesman for District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office, declined to comment. Krasner, speaking at an unrelated press conference, also declined to comment.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 will not represent Nordo in the case, said Mike Neilon, a spokesman for the police union, in an email.
An officer since 1997, Nordo became a detective in 2002 and joined the department’s Homicide Task Force in 2009.
Nordo allegedly used his position to “cultivate relationships” with male suspects, witnesses and others by “grooming the individuals, engaging in conduct to make the targets of his advances more susceptible to his sexually assaultive and/or coercive behavior.”
The grand jury report also said he used intimidation and manipulation to keep his victims from coming forward.
Nordo allegedly sexually assaulted victims during the course of his investigations and inside interrogation rooms and official visiting rooms at prisons.
One allegation in the report dates back to 2005, when Nordo allegedly directed a victim to masturbate while Nordo touched him in an interview room inside the East Detective Division headquarters in the 3900 block of Whitaker Avenue.
The department’s Crime Scene Unit collected samples of a substance left inside the room, which later was revealed to contain the victim’s sperm, according to the grand jury report.
The victim was accused of a robbery and Nordo obtained a signed confession from him, according to the grand jury report. But Nordo allegedly told the victim that he “didn’t have anything to worry about with this case.”
While a member of the Homicide Task Force, Nordo allegedly volunteered to handle ministerial work for other detectives which gave him greater access to victims, and targeted those in custody and restrained with handcuffs and/or leg shackles.
The report also alleges Nordo coerced or forced witnesses to sign statements that were not true and he submitted requests for individuals to receive crime reward money that contained fabricated and falsified information.