Syracuse, N.Y. — A former Syracuse police officer, who is alleged to have coerced sex from women for years while on-duty, is facing another lawsuit from four women who say they are still traumatized by his actions.
The women name Chester Thompson, his supervising officers and the city of Syracuse in the complaint. They say Thompson raped them while in uniform, sometimes on several occasions, while his supervisors did little to nothing to stop his behavior during his 18-year career, according to court papers.
The lawsuit claims police officials knew as early as 1997 about an accusation of rape against Thompson by a local woman.
“Even as four more women accused Officer Thompson of rape or sexual assault, sequentially and over the course of years, defendants failed to make any meaningful effort to investigate what was now a pattern of highly alarming criminal conduct, and a likely rapist who used his power and privilege as a police officer to sexually assault women was allowed to remain on the force,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit, filed today in state Supreme Court in Onondaga County, is the latest attempt to hold Thompson and the city accountable for his actions and his supervisors’ lack of response.
Thompson’s behavior and the department’s failure to police him were the subject of a syracuse.com | The Post-Standard investigation.
Thompson was arrested and convicted in December 2015 of official misconduct; he was fired that year. Prosecutors said they didn’t have proof of a rape. There’s no law protecting someone who feels intimidated into sex by an officer, they said. Instead, Thompson pleaded guilty to official misconduct.
In 2019, at least 10 women came forward to allege Thompson raped, coerced sex or committed other misconduct over his 18-year career, a syracuse.com investigation found. Thompson was never disciplined, his personnel file showed.
Since then, Thompson was arrested for witness tampering. He’s already cost city taxpayers $900,000 in a settled lawsuit.
Now, four women are suing Thompson, former police Chief Frank Fowler, Capt. Thomas Galvin and five unnamed SPD employees, accusing them of doing little to nothing in response to complaints about Thompson. Their inaction enabled a serial rapist for years, the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit comes under the state’s Adult Survivor’s Act, a law that allows expired claims of sexual abuse to be revived. The law expires this week.
The women are not named in the lawsuit, though some of their stories closely follow those recounted to syracuse.com in 2019.
The lawsuit says Thompson forced himself on a woman in 1997 inside a port-a-potty at a rock concert he was on duty for. The lawsuit said another Syracuse officer stood outside and did nothing.
One of the plaintiffs said in 2000 or 2001 she was stopped by Thompson for a traffic violation. During the stop he offered to lease one of his rental properties to her.
When she couldn’t pay rent, he raped her in exchange for payments, according to the lawsuit. The rape continued for months, with Thompson showing up to the apartment at various times day and night, often in uniform, the lawsuit said.
A second woman said Thompson forced her to give him oral sex in his patrol car in 2006 and that he stalked her daughter after meeting her during a police call.
A third said he forced her into oral sex at her Syracuse apartment three separate times.
And the fourth said Thompson forced his way into her home while he was responding to a call about an unleashed pit bull. He forced her into oral sex, the lawsuit claims.
Despite numerous complaints to Syracuse police’s internal affairs, Thompson was never disciplined, the lawsuit said.
Thompson’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday’s lawsuit.
More on syracuse.com on Chester Thompson
Ex-Syracuse cop who coerced sex from women seeks veterans rehab program to avoid new conviction
Ex-Syracuse cop facing sex lawsuit is now charged with witness tampering
As bosses did little, Syracuse cop coerced women for sex, they say; ‘I was terrified’
Former Syracuse cop who had on-duty sexual encounters gets probation
Staff writer Fernando Alba covers breaking news, crime and public safety. Have a tip, story idea, question or comment? Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org