Former Philly police inspector will stand trial on sexual assault charges

Philadelphia Police Department headquarters at 7th and Race streets. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia Police Department headquarters at 7th and Race streets. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Former Chief Inspector Carl Holmes will stand trial on charges that he sexually assaulted two female officers more than a decade ago while working for the Philadelphia Police Department.

Holmes, 54, was charged with indecent assault, aggravated indecent assault, and other sexual offenses at the recommendation of an investigating grand jury. His arraignment is scheduled for March 26.

He is also accused of assaulting a third female officer. That case was postponed until next month because she was unable to travel to Philadelphia for Thursday’s preliminary hearing.

During that hearing, one of the women wept as she detailed a January 2006 encounter with Holmes she said came just days after she joined his task force at his request.

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She was at a going-away party for her boss at Philly Empire Lounge, a nightclub in North Philadelphia. Holmes, assigned to the department’s East Police Division, was leaving to participate in an FBI training program.

Under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Rachel Black, the woman testified that Holmes forced himself on her twice that night.

The first time, Holmes allegedly kissed the woman after he pulled her across a street toward his city-issued SUV.

The second time, she said Holmes stuck his hand into the back of her pants and penetrated her vagina while she was in the passenger seat of his car. Holmes also fondled her breasts and pushed her head into his lap after taking out his genitals, she said.

“I had told him that I had to leave — that my husband was waiting for me,” she testified. “I told him this wasn’t right.”

The second woman testified that Holmes digitally penetrated her inside his office in late 2006 or early 2007. She said Holmes called her there, and that he was wearing an Eagles jersey and smoking a cigarette when she arrived.

“I went into shock. Deer in headlights mode,” said the woman. “I was numb.”

WHYY does not typically publish the names of alleged victims of sexual assault.

Prosecutors declined to comment after Thursday’s hearing.

The grand jury found that Holmes’ rank, as well as the Police Department’s culture, insulated him from any meaningful investigation for years. All three female officers reported sexual assault or sexual harassment allegations to the department. And all three of them were subjected to investigations by the department’s Internal Affairs Division.

Greg Pagano, Holmes’ attorney, told reporters that his client is innocent and that the case against him is “very triable.”

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