N. Carolina detective accused of sending inappropriate messages to sex assault victims is fired

He is said to have sent messages to women whose sexual assault cases he had previously investigated.

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By Phil Helsel and Kurt Chirbas

A North Carolina police detective accused of sending inappropriate texts and messages to women whose sexual assault cases he had investigated has been fired.

Paul G. Matrafailo III, who had been a member of the Fayetteville Police Department’s crisis intervention team, was fired from the force earlier this year, NBC affiliate WRAL of Raleigh reported Thursday, citing a dismissal letter.

Fayetteville police did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday.

The May 7 dismissal letter, which was shared with NBC News, says that police received a complaint March 5 that accused Matrafailo of contacting a sexual assault victim through Instagram and "began a conversation with her that she felt was inappropriate" and making a second attempt at contact March 9. Matrafailo had investigated the victim's 2016 case.

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Deanne Gerdes, executive director of the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County, told WRAL that three women who had been sexually assaulted complained that Matrafailo, who had handled their cases, was sending them inappropriate texts or messages.

One woman told the station that Matrafailo sent her messages about lingerie she was planning to buy.

Police launched an administrative investigation in March after learning of allegations that the detective had made inappropriate contact with a sexual assault victim over Instagram, according to the dismissal letter. He was hired by the police department in 2009, the dismissal letter says.

A number for Matrafailo could not immediately be found early Friday.

The Fayetteville Observer newspaper Thursday reported the dismissal.

The dismissal letter referenced previous problems with alcohol and said that Matrafailo had entered a treatment program, completed its requirements and returned to duty in January.

It also stated that in 2018, he was reprimanded for sending inappropriate and offensive comments and sharing a video of a case with someone not working on that case. The dismissal letter cites failures in performance of police duties and personal conduct, and unbecoming conduct.

No criminal charges have been filed, but an investigation is underway, Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West told WRAL. West's office did not return a request comment early Friday.