Paul G. Matrafailo III, 33, is a former detective with the Fayetteville, North Carolina Police Department, accused of sending suggestive messages to rape victims whose cases he investigated.
Matrafailo had worked as a member of the Sexual Assault Unit and had been with the department since July 2009 before he was dismissed on May 7 for “unbecoming conduct.” Matrafailo’s dismissal letter stated that his behavior had diminished his ability to fulfill his responsibilities, “which could bring discredit upon the city and the Fayetteville Police Department,” the Fayetteville Observer reported.
While there are currently no charges pending against the former detective, the case is still under active investigation. It’s unknown if any civil cases have been filed.
Sexual assault advocates are outraged by Matrafailo’s behavior. “Imagine being raped and then having your rape detective hitting on you. It’s disgusting,” Deanne Gerdes, executive director of the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County told WRAL.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Matrafailo Messaged Erin Scanlon to Ask About her Lingerie
US Army Captain Erin Scanlon was surprised when she received a message from Matrafailo in March 2019. Scanlon had interacted with the detective since 2016 when he began investigating her rape case. The two hadn’t had contact since June 2018 when Scanlon’s perpetrator was acquitted.
According to Scanlon, messages started coming in on her Instagram account from user Paul2806. She initially had no idea who Paul2806 was or why he was reaching out to her.
“Do I know you?” Scanlon asked. “Erin its matrafailo,” he responded, adding, “Fpd,” for Fayetteville Police Department. Matrafailo then inquired about Scanlon’s Amazon wishlist, which mentioned lingerie Scanlon was planning to purchase.
His comments to Scanlon included winking face emojis and emojis of faces with tongues out. “Jw (just wondering) why u have a wish list up? :p,” he wrote in one message. He then followed up by commenting, “Some interesting things on there ha ;).”
The messages were uncomfortable for Scanlon, who’d trusted Matrafailo to help her during her rape case. She quickly ended the conversation by saying, “Please don’t contact me again.” Matrafailo replied, “It was meant 4 someone else. Sorry.”
“It was very gross,” Scanlon recalled. “That was when I realized he was making it sexual, and I was not about that,” she said. “He knew everything about me at that point in my life.”
2. Scanlon Doesn’t Know How Matrafailo Tracked Her Down on Instagram
Scanlon said she didn’t know how Matrafailo tracked her down online since her Instagram account didn’t include her name. “Obviously he was still following me on social media. I have no idea how he found me on social media,” she said.
The Fayetteville Police Department also noted that Matrafailo’s comments were inappropriate. “Although detectives sometimes follow up with victims, you had not spoken with this victim since shortly after her trial and she had never provided you with her social media contact information,” Police Chief Gina V. Hawkins wrote in Matrafailo’s dismissal letter.
Scanlon said was upset that someone who had worked so closely on her rape case and knew so many of her personal details, had made sexual overtures. According to Scanlon, Matrafailo had seen all of her photos after her assault, photos of the crime scene and her rape kit. He’d also downloaded all her personal information from her phone.
“It was shocking and inappropriate,” Scanlon told the Fayetteville Observer. “It was honestly a little bit unbelievable that he would think of me that way or think it’s OK to talk to me like that.”
3. Matrafailo Messaged Another Crime Victim About Her Nursing Outfit
Erin Myers said she periodically received messages Matrafailo, who’d been investigating her rape case. Myers revealed that the messages became “weird” when Matrafailo learned that she was graduating from nursing school.
“He was like, ‘Oh, are you going to be in a nursing outfit?’” she told the Fayetteville Observer. Myers was confused by the messages and wondered if Matrafailo was attempting to see how she might reply to the suggestive comments. She suspected they were some type of test related to her rape case.
Myers told the Daily Mail that Matrafailo’s comments became even more inappropriate when asked if she could wear her nursing uniform for him after she graduated from nursing school. He also asked, “do you want to practice on me?”
Myers started ignoring the messages until graduation day. “Hey, how are you doing? Are you still mad at me?” the message read. Unsure of the sender, Myers asked who was messaging and received a stern response. “Don’t play with me. You know who this is.” When Myers said she was with family and didn’t have time to chat, Matrafailo replied, “Oh you graduated. Let me take you out. I care for you.”
4. At Least One Other Woman Accused Matrafailo of Inappropriate Behavior
While Scanlon and Myers have spoken publicly about Matrafailo’s messages, at least one other woman who filed a complaint has asked to remain anonymous. The unidentified woman said the messages she received from Matrafailo came after he was terminated by the police department.
Gerdes said she is “disgusted” by his behavior and added that her agency had worked “really well” with the Fayetteville Police Department. “We are all really sad for the victims, for being re-victimized by their own detective,” she explained. Gerdes said she’s worried Matrafailo may have contacted other women who are too frightened to come forward.
According to Gerdes, her agency is doing everything possible to assist the women who were contacted by Matrafailo. “They were scared (to report Matrafailo) but we’ve worked with them. They’re getting counseling and we’re helping them through everything that they’ve been through,” Gerdes told WRAL.
5. Paul Matrafailo Had Been Previously Reprimanded for Inappropriate Conduct with Colleagues
This wasn’t the first time Matrafailo had been accused of inappropriate conduct. In 2018, he was investigated for sending inappropriate messages to coworkers. He also shared a video from a case he’d been working with other detectives who were not involved with the case.
An April 2018 investigation concluded that “comments sent to the Forensic Technicians were perceived as inappropriate and offended them.” On May 31, 2018, Matrafailo received a written reprimand for his behavior within the department.