Former Grosse Pointe officer under investigation for allegedly assaulting teen
GROSSE POINTE, Mich. – A woman is accusing a former Grosse Pointe police officer of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager.
Ellie Scandirito said she never came forward because she thought her allegations wouldn't be taken seriously.
Scandirito said she was 16 years old when then-35-year-old Officer Matt Pater sexually assaulted her multiple times. She took her allegations four hours north to the Harbor Springs City Council.
Pater is now a police officer in Harbor Springs, and when Scandirito found out, she said it troubled her. He's also listed as vice president of the Harbor Spring Boosters Club, a volunteer organization that deals with student-athletes.
Scandirito said the Harbor Springs community needs to know more about Pater's history and what was found in her personnel file from Grosse Pointe that hasn't been revealed.
"He closed the door," Scandirito said. "He put his hands on my shoulders and pushed me down. He unzipped his pants and pulled out his penis and stuck it in my mouth."
In her complaint, Scandirito said Pater sexually assaulted her multiple times while she was working as a receptionist at a Detroit nursing home.
"He would use language like, 'If you tell anyone about this, you could lose your job,'" Scandirito said.
She said Pater was an off-duty Grosse Pointe police officer at the time, working at the nursing home as a security guard.
"He eventually pulled away," Scandirito said. "I was crying. He zipped up his pants and walked me to his car said said I did a good job and I would get used to this."
"Did you say anything to him?" Local 4's Karen Drew asked.
"I was silent," Scandirito said.
The Local 4 Defenders obtained Pater's Grosse Pointe police personnel file. In it, there are salacious emails sent from Pater to 16-year-old Scandirito.
"I also really love to taste my partner, like smell," Pater wrote. "Every part tastes different and (it) arouses me."
"There isn't a part of the body I wouldn't lick, suck or kiss," Pater wrote in another email. "Do you understand now or do I need to show you?"
The Defenders learned that the emails were brought to the Grosse Pointe Police Department nearly two decades ago by Scandirito's mother. There was no investigation launched on the police officer after the emails were exposed.
Pater took a scheduled vacation, and when he came back, he put in a two-day resignation.
Pater moved to Harbor Springs, a resort community known for its small-town atmosphere, beautiful homes, gorgeous views and lack of scandals.
"I had to travel for four hours in the car to come here to speak to you all with this issue, but I felt that it was crucial information that I really wanted to go on the record," Scandirito said. "I have obtained FOIA documents via the Michigan State Police."
Scandirito shared her allegations of assault and the paperwork from Pater's personnel file, which included the sexual emails.
City council members had little to say, except that they would wait for the findings of a Michigan State Police investigation into the allegations and whether the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office would charge Pater.
"Those emails alone should have launched a massive investigation," Sen. Curtis Hertel said.
Hertel is taking Scandirito's case seriously.
"Those are disgusting things to send to a 16-year-old, and anyone who would do that has severe judgment problems," Scandirito said. "The idea that that person is still a law enforcement in the state -- they are volunteering with kids in the state -- is wrong and should never be allowed.
"I don't have any reason to doubt Ellie's story. Too often we doubt women that come forward (with) no reason monetarily to come forward. She is only coming forward (because) she believes what happened to her is important and that people have a right to know who this person is who did this to her."
The Defenders tracked down Pater in Harbor Springs while he was working.
"Do you have anything you want to say?" Karen asked.
"No," Pater said.
"I've been at this for 10 months, so the one thing I have learned is to hurry up and wait and to be patient," Scandirito said. "What's right is right and what's wrong is wrong."
The case is sitting with the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office, which has to decide whether to announce charges against Pater.
Harbor Springs Police Chief Kyle Knight said the department is awaiting the prosecuting attorney’s decision.
Harbor Springs Public Schools statement
The district released this statement on Pater:
Matt Pater is not employed with Harbor Springs Public Schools. We take our obligations to students very seriously and student safety is the top priority. We follow established protocols and procedures to ensure that our students are afforded a safe and secure learning environment, including a required background check for all employees and volunteers.
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