Suffolk County Police vehicle on July 17, 2023 in Amityville

Suffolk County Police vehicle on July 17, 2023 in Amityville Credit: James Carbone

Suffolk County has agreed to pay $2.25 million to settle a lawsuit with a woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted in 2017 by a police officer in a precinct interrogation room while another cop falsified entries in a prisoner log to cover up for his partner.

The woman, who Newsday is not identifying by name because she is the victim of sexual assault, alleged in a federal lawsuit that former Suffolk officer Christopher McCoy had forced her to perform oral sex on him following a March 16, 2017, arrest in Wyandanch.

Newsday first reported last week that a settlement had been reached in the case, but the amount had not previously been disclosed.

It was announced during the Suffolk County Legislature Ways and Means committee meeting Thursday, which signs off on large lawsuit settlements. Committee Chairman Legis. Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said it was in the best interest of the county to settle rather than risk paying a large judgment if a jury believed McCoy’s partner, Mark Pav, knew about the assault and did not stop it.

“It was going to trial and a jury could have found it to be a lot more,” Trotta said. “It’s not clear if the guy even knew. I hope he didn’t, but you can’t take that chance.”

Attorney Michael Brown, of Central Islip, who is representing the plaintiff along with attorney Brian Egan, said the settlement "provides her with some small piece of justice so that she can move forward and move on with her life.”

Representatives for Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine and the Suffolk County Police Department declined to comment.

The case was detailed in a Newsday series that reported how the internal affairs bureaus of Nassau and Suffolk police departments have allowed officers to evade discipline in cases where their conduct lead to death or serious harm.

The lawsuit, which was scheduled to go to trial in September, was filed in the Eastern District of New York two months after the plaintiff said she was assaulted by McCoy. It named him, Pav and Suffolk County as defendants and sought $40 million in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages and legal fees.

McCoy was suspended and ultimately resigned from the department. He pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor of depriving the woman of her civil rights, and served a year in prison. Suffolk refused to represent McCoy in the lawsuit and he defaulted, meaning that he did not mount a defense. Suffolk County was dismissed as a defendant in the case in March 2022, according to court documents, leaving Pav as the single defendant.

The lawsuit said the woman reported the incident to the FBI because she feared Suffolk police would do nothing, or retaliate against her for reporting it.

Also Thursday, Trotta announced the county reached nearly $500,000 in settlements with four pawn brokers involved in class-action suit alleging that Suffolk County police detectives habitually seized secondhand jewelry on suspicion it was stolen, but refused to return it if it was not.

The settlements are with The New Budget Buy & Sell Inc. for $190,859; We Buy Gold Inc. for $113,033; Diamond Jewelers for $35,868 and S.E.S. Diamond Inc. for $160,238.

Plaintiff Attorney Andrew Campanelli, of Garden City, said he has reached a total of $1.25 million in settlements on behalf of 18 clients in the case. He said the county was required to obtain new software to better track the goods as part of a previous settlement.

“I'm pleased that we were able to come to resolutions,” he said. “And I'm pleased that the county has implemented safeguards to now make sure that property owners are afforded proper due process.”

Suffolk paid $18,092,350 in more than 80 settlements last year, according to documents provided through a Freedom of Information request.

That number does not include a $12.8 million late December settlement reached with Rodolfo Taylor, who spent 26 years incarcerated for a string of gas station robberies and later had his conviction overturned.  

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