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Former Connellsville sergeant accused of having sex with 15-year-old

Paul Peirce
| Wednesday, April 22, 2015, 10:33 a.m.
Former Connellsville police officer Ryan Reese
Tribune-Review
Former Connellsville police officer Ryan Reese

A former Connellsville police sergeant accused of trading sex for his promise of not arresting a teen and her boyfriend on drug and weapons charges, has been indicted by a statewide grand jury.

Ryan T. Reese, 42, of Connellsville was charged Wednesday by state police with having sex with the then-15-year-old girl between October 2013 and February 2014, according to records.

The alleged victim told members of a grand jury seated in Allegheny County about numerous sexual encounters in Reese's patrol car and his personal sport-utility vehicle, records indicate.

Attempts to reach Reese for comment were unsuccessful. His attorney, Melinda Dellarose of Uniontown, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The grand jury presentment indicates trouble surfaced in November 2013 when Fayette County District Attorney Jack Heneks' office directed that the 14-year veteran of the Connellsville force be terminated from the county's drug task force for allegedly having sex with a confidential informant involved in a prostitution sting. Reese had been a task force supervisor since 2009.

No criminal charges arose from that case, but Reese was never reinstated to the task force, records show.

“I believe the charges filed (Wednesday) certainly means that we made the right decision removing Reese from the drug task force more than a year ago,” Heneks said.

Reese continued working for the Connellsville department — handling some drug investigations — until Dec. 18, when he was placed on unpaid leave. He resigned from the force Dec. 29.

Heneks said Wednesday that state Attorney General Kathleen Kane's office will prosecute Reese.

The grand jury report shows the probe of Reese's alleged involvement with the teen began in February 2014 when the girl was questioned in an unrelated theft case.

That same report indicates the alleged sexual encounters started sometime after Reese served a search warrant at the girl's home in October 2013 and found drugs and a .22-caliber rifle.

Shortly after, Reese started using the girl as a confidential drug informant and began pressuring her for sex, records indicate.

Acting on suspicions about Reese's activities, state police followed him for several months, according to court records.

Grand jury records indicate Reese testified before the panel Dec. 17 — a day before he was placed on administrative leave by the city — and admitted to having sex with the teen on one occasion after he found her waiting in his private vehicle after work.

“He said that she relentlessly pressured him into having sexual intercourse, and he eventually gave in,” the grand jury said.

Heneks said his office has decided not to prosecute eight to 10 drug cases investigated by Reese because of the criminal inquiry. He said others will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Connellsville Police Chief James Capitos said the case has “hurt the police department.”

He said his officers “have cooperated 100 percent with the state police in their investigation and provided them with any information they needed.”

“It was handled just like any other criminal case. I want the citizens to have the confidence we're still serving them to the best of our ability,” he said.

Connellsville Councilman Greg “Matty” Ritch described the charges against Reese as “an unfortunate incident” that blemishes the entire force.

“Unfortunately, our entire police force was painted with the same brush,” he said.

Reese is charged with seven criminal counts, including unlawful contact with a minor under 16, corruption of minors, official oppression, indecent assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

He was arraigned before Perryopolis District Judge Richard Kasunic II and released on $10,000 bond.

Reporter Mark Hofmann contributed to this story.

Paul Peirce is a reporter for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at ppeirce@tribweb.com or 724-850-2860.

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