Accusations against former cop aired in court

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

SOUTHGATE – By all accounts, it was a long, emotional evening for a Pennsylvania woman, her husband and at least one member of the Southgate Police Department. No one disputes that the woman spent much of the night drinking, argued with her husband and was interviewed by responding officers.

Whether one of those officers later raped the woman remains a question for the court. A preliminary examination of the evidence held in 28th District Court on Wednesday resulted in former officer Emmanuel Paravas, 42, bound over to Wayne County Circuit Court.

In moving the matter forward to the higher court, Judge Rudy Kalmbach stressed that Wednesday’s determination indicated only that sufficient questions remain about the night in question to merit proper court presentation.

“Clearly, the people have met the burden of probable cause to believe these events have taken place,” Kalmbach said.

Paravas faces a possible 15-year sentence if found guilty of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, and five years if found guilty of misconduct in office. Paravas served with the Southgate Police since 2000 until his resignation in March.

The allegations against Paravas were made five days after the alleged incidents of Feb. 9, and were investigated by the Michigan State Police. During his initial arraignment last month, Paravas was granted a $100,000 personal bond which was continued last week.

Wednesday’s examination included lengthy testimony by the woman and her husband, who traveled to Michigan in February and checked into the La Quinta Inn in Southgate. They arrived Feb. 9, and the woman, a 41-year-old entertainer, was scheduled to perform at a local club Thursday night.

Under questioning by Prosecutor Qiana Willard, both the woman and her husband testified that the woman began drinking shortly after arrival, having driven to a nearby liquor store for wine. Several hours later, under protest from her husband, she made another trip to the store for more wine; following a more heated argument, the woman went to a nearby bar where she began drinking apple martinis.

After that, the woman said, she does not remember anything else until several hours later when the alleged sexual attack took place at another hotel.

Testimony by the woman’s husband continued the story. The two argued about her drinking – a frequent disagreement – and at times she became physical and hit her husband. Concerned both about his wife’s inability to drive and the estimated $30,000 worth of equipment in their shared vehicle, the husband attempted to find his wife. First he ran down the street to the nearest bar, then returned to the room to search the Internet for possible locations.

Around that time, the woman returned to the hotel. Her husband heard a “thump” outside the door, and found his barely-conscious wife sprawled on the hallway floor. They argued, he said, and he went to find the bar and vehicle, which his wife did not drive back to La Quinta. She did not know how she got back to the hotel, she testified.

The woman’s husband left the hotel and went across the street to a gas station to find a ride to the bar. That was his first encounter with Paravas, who was on duty and parked at the convenience store. Paravas agreed to give the husband a ride to get his vehicle, according to the husband’s testimony. He found the truck and drove back to the La Quinta Inn. There another fight took place.

“She started arguing, I don’t remember about what,” the husband testified. “That’s what she does when she’s drunk.”

The husband went back outside to hide the vehicle, he testified, afraid that his wife would against take off, too drunk to drive. He told the desk clerk at the hotel, “You might have to call the police.”

When he returned, his personal items were thrown into the hallway, and he was unable to enter the room. The police were called, “which I knew was gonna happen,” he said.

Three officers, including Paravas, were in the lobby. The husband testified that Paravas sent him to get his wife’s purse, cell phone and wallet, and said he would take her to another hotel for the night. The husband said that Paravas told him the separation was more for the husband’s protection than the woman’s.

“I said OK,” the husband testified. “She ain’t gonna remember any of this night anyway.”

From that point, the only testimony offered Wednesday was from the woman, who claimed that after securing her in another hotel, Paravas returned several hours later and sexually assaulted her. She provided details of what happened when Paravas first transported her to the other hotel and advised her not to leave the room, with an alleged threat that she would go to jail if she did. She claimed that when he returned, he secured her in handcuffs prior to the sexual assault.

The husband next heard from his wife early the next morning when she called from Ohio, where she’d fled after Paravas allegedly left the hotel a second time. She said she returned to the La Quinta, took the truck and used a GPS system unit to navigate her way toward Pennsylvania. Her husband convinced her to return to Michigan to fulfill her performance obligations, and the couple called the Michigan State Police five days later to report the allegations.

During her testimony, the woman said she had no memory of the night between the time she first left the La Quinta hotel headed for a bar, until she was escorted into the hotel room by Paravas. She admitted to having “blacked out,” which her husband said was often the case when she was intoxicated.

Wednesday’s hearing was not, Kalmbach stressed, intended to present evidence. Most of the days’ testimony was in response to questions by Willard, with clarifications sought by defense attorney Michael Rataj.

“It was just a complete, blank slate to you, wasn’t it?” Rataj asked the woman after several questions went unanswered.

Kalmbach bound the case over to Circuit Court, where Paravas will be arraigned Aug. 9.

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)

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