Grand jury indicts former Connellsville police officer for improper sex with 2 women he arrested

Paul Peirce
| Tuesday, March 1, 2016, 2:54 p.m.

A former Connellsville police officer indicted 11 months ago for having sex with a minor during a drug investigation was charged Tuesday with having sex with two women he arrested in 2012, while he was chief of the Fayette County Drug Task Force.

Ryan Reese, 43, was indicted by a statewide grand jury. The criminal complaints were filed Tuesday.

He is charged with one count each of rape and official oppression and three counts each of indecent assault, indecent sexual intercourse and sexual assault filed by state police investigators with the organized crime task force.

Reese has been free on bond since he was indicted by a grand jury in April on charges including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and corruption of minors for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old girl. He is awaiting trial in the 2015 case.

The initial victim, now 17, testified in July that she became a confidential informant for Reese when she was 16 to “work off” the charges against her and her boyfriend, then 19. The charges resulted from a 2013 police raid in which officers found marijuana, a gun and drug paraphernalia.

The Tribune-Review does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.

In September, a Westmoreland County woman told the grand jury that Reed arrested her in 2011 after she sold seven stamp bags of heroin outside Valley Dairy in Connellsville. The then-23-year-old victim testified she signed papers agreeing to work with him as an informant but didn't hear from him for two months.

One day, Reese pulled up to her home in a black vehicle and said he had to arrest her, she told jurors.

After he handcuffed her, she asked to change clothes. She testified he followed her into the bedroom and raped her.

“Initially, (the victim) did not tell anyone about having sexual intercourse with Reese because she did not think anyone would believe her as a drug suspect over a respected cop,” the grand jury said in its presentment.

The woman, who was sentenced to serve up to three years in prison, said she confided in a doctor at Muncy state prison in Lycoming County.

The second woman told the grand jury that in January 2012 she was working at Eat'n Park in Uniontown and gave morphine pills to an acquaintance in the parking lot. After the victim, then 30, was arrested by drug task force members, including Reese, she asked if there was anything she could do to get out of charges. A month later, she testified, Reese took her to the drug task force offices to get personal belongings from her car and demanded oral sex.

A few days after, he contacted her again and they had sex in his office, she told the grand jury. He was chief of the task force then.

On a separate occasion, Reese texted her and she met him in Connellsville, she testified. He was in uniform as a city police officer and they had sex, she said.

The Uniontown victim, who was never charged with any drug offense by Reese, told the grand jury that she was afraid to tell anyone about the sexual encounters.

“(The victim) testified that she was afraid that if she did not provide Reese with oral sex, she was going to get prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. (The victim) testified that she was also worried no one would believe her over a police officer,” the presentment said.

Reese's attorney, Emily Smarto of Greensburg, said Reese “vehemently denies the charges and will present a vigorous defense.”

“These (new charges) are nothing more than an attempt by the state to bolster their already weak case,” Smarto said.

Smarto noted that five of the seven criminal charges filed in the 2005 case against Reese involving the minor have been dismissed.

“And that case has not even reached trial in Fayette County. Mr. Reese denies the charges, too, and we intend to present a vigorous defense,” Smarto said. Reese posted $25,000 bail through a bondsman. A preliminary hearing is set for March 14.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. He can be reached at 724-850-2860.

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