A former Charleston police officer who resigned while being investigated for having sex in uniform with a woman on his cruiser will face a state review if he tries to return to law enforcement, authorities said.
Officer Joseph DiMeglio, 27, resigned March 5 while police officials were contemplating whether to fire him in connection with the Feb. 16 encounter in downtown Charleston, Police Capt. Gregory Whitaker said.
Police investigated allegations that DiMeglio sexually assaulted the woman, but authorities determined the allegation was unfounded and no charges were filed. The woman, a 23-year-old waitress, told detectives she couldn't remember whether she had consented to have sex and she didn't want to pursue charges against the officer, police reports indicate.
DiMeglio acknowledged having sex with the woman against the trunk of his cruiser, in a public place, but he insisted the encounter was consensual and occurred after his shift ended, according to internal affairs documents. The exact location of the incident is in dispute.
An administrative investigation found evidence that DiMeglio had failed to attend to his duties and demonstrated conduct unbecoming of an officer, police documents show.
Police notified the state Criminal Justice Academy of the allegations when they reported his resignation April 2. Academy officials plan to review the matter if DiMeglio applies for a new law enforcement job. So far, no police department has indicated plans to hire him, academy records show.
Reached by telephone Monday, DiMeglio declined to comment on the episode.
DiMeglio joined the Charleston Police Department in May 2008 and was assigned to the bicycle patrol unit, police said. On the night in question, he was patrolling the Market area in a cruiser.
According to police reports and internal affairs documents, the episode played out this way:
DiMeglio, a married father, met up with the woman on the night of Feb. 14 and they ended up kissing in an alley behind a Market Street bar where she worked. The next night, he spoke with her again when she stepped outside of Wild Wing Cafe, where she was drinking with some off-duty police officers after she got off work. She and the officers, not including DiMeglio, then went to Mad River Bar & Grille.
Around 2:50 a.m., DiMeglio told another on-duty officer he was going to check on the woman after seeing her walking alone on Market Street. A short time later, DiMeglio and the woman had sex. DiMeglio then dropped her at a nearby hotel to wait for a ride around 3 a.m.
Ninety minutes later, the woman sent a text message to a Charleston police officer she had once dated. "If you only knew how that happened," read the message, accompanied by a photo of a large bruise on her right thigh. She later sent another message to a former boyfriend stating that she had been raped by a city police officer.
On Feb. 17, the former boyfriend reported the incident to police. The woman told officers she blacked out after drinking three beers and a shot on Feb. 16. The next thing she knew, she was bent over a cruiser and being sexually assaulted by a police officer named "Joe" behind Harris Teeter supermarket on East Bay Street, she told police. Officers noted that the woman had bruises on her body.
The woman told police she couldn't remember if she had consented to the sex. She later signed a form indicating that she didn't want to pursue criminal charges in the case.
When questioned, DiMeglio insisted that he had not forced sex on the woman or harmed her in any way. He told police he had stopped to help her after she discovered her purse and keys were locked inside Mad River. He told investigators the woman initiated sex and never told him to stop.
Police consulted with prosecutors, who found no basis to proceed with a criminal case against DiMeglio.