Former NIU cop re-indicted on rape charges
Dismissal of original case amid allegations of mishandling helped lead to police chief's firing
(Tribune illustration / April 8, 2012)
Andrew Rifkin, 25, was charged Friday with felony criminal sexual assault in connection with an October 2011 incident involving an NIU freshman. The indictment adds another chapter to a legal drama that so far has included accusations of hidden evidence, upheaval in the campus Police Department and the abrupt dismissal of the original case by a lame-duck prosecutor.
Former DeKalb State's Attorney Clay Campbell dropped charges against Rifkin in November after accusing NIU police of intentionally withholding statements that could have helped the defendant. The Tribune reported last month that Campbell dismissed the case without publicly revealing that Rifkin had signed a statement acknowledging that he continued to have sex with the student after she told him to stop.
Campbell also appears to have dismissed the case without notifying the alleged victim. The student learned that the original charges had been dropped through media reports, current State's Attorney Richard Schmack said in a statement.
Schmack took office in December and decided to resurrect the case, bringing it to a grand jury Friday. The original charges were dismissed in a manner that allowed them to be refiled.
The woman, who is still enrolled at the school, has been cooperating with prosecutors.
"These charges have been reinstated following full consultation with her, and with her complete support," Schmack said in a statement.
Campbell couldn't be reached for comment.
Rifkin's attorney, Bruce Brandwein, said the former officer will turn himself in to the DeKalb County sheriff's office as soon as the arrest warrant is processed.
"My client is devastated," Brandwein said. "He's hurt by this, but we're going to defend him with everything we've got."
The NIU Police Department didn't know the case went before a grand jury Friday, and was caught off guard by the re-indictment, said Bill Nicklas, acting director of public safety. No campus officers testified before the panel.
"We just learned that information, and we, of course, will cooperate with the state's attorney as they proceed in the prosecution of the case," Nicklas said.
Rifkin faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. He is suing former NIU police Chief Donald Grady and the university for allegedly mishandling the case.
A graduate of NIU, Rifkin was a new campus police officer in fall 2011 when he was assigned to a dormitory and developed a relationship with the then-freshman. On Oct. 28, 2011, that student told NIU police that Rifkin had sexually assaulted her two weeks earlier.
According to a typed statement Rifkin signed Oct. 31, 2011, he picked up the student outside a fraternity house Oct. 14 and drove her to his home in a nearby town. The statement indicates they had consensual intercourse, and he then tried to initiate anal sex.
In the statement, Rifkin says the student stated, "Stop, stop it hurts." The statement then says the student "stated words similar to this approximately 4-5 times."
He said he continued for less than a minute after she asked him to stop, the statement reads. It later says: "I sincerely apologize to (her) for my actions that night."
The statement, examined by the Tribune, was initialed twice by Rifkin and signed by him.
He was fired from his job and charged in November 2011 with felony sexual assault.